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Kawili Kai, born to a female wholphin by a male dolphin, at 9 months of age in September 2005
Kawili Kai, born to a female wholphin by a male dolphin, at 9 months of age in September 2005
Scientific classificationEdit this classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Superfamily: Delphinoidea
Family: Delphinidae
Hybrid: Tursiops truncatus × Pseudorca crassidens

A wholphin or wolphin is an extremely rare cetacean hybrid born from a mating of a female common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) with a male false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). The name implies a hybrid of whale and dolphin, although taxonomically, both are within the "oceanic dolphin" family, which is within the "toothed whale" suborder.[1][2] Wholphins have been born in captivity and also reported in the wild.[2]



The first recorded wholphin was born in a Tokyo SeaWorld in 1981; he died after 200 days.[3]

The first wholphin in the United States and the first to survive was Kekaimalu, born at Sea Life Park in Hawaii on May 15, 1985; her name means "from the peaceful ocean".[3] Kekaimalu proved fertile when she gave birth at a very young age. The calf died after a few days. In 1991, Kekaimalu gave birth again, to daughter Pohaikealoha. For two years, she cared for the calf, but did not nurse it; it was hand-reared by trainers. Pohaikealoha died at age 9. On December 23, 2004, Kekaimalu had her third calf, daughter Kawili Kai, sired by a male bottlenose. This calf did nurse and was very playful. Only months after birth, it was the size of a one-year-old bottlenose dolphin.[1] All three calves were three-quarters bottlenose dolphin and one-quarter false killer whale.[4] As of January 2019, Kekaimalu and Kawili Kai remain in captivity in Sea Life Park.[5]

Family tree[edit]

Tanui Hahai (false killer whale) ♂
Punahele (bottlenose dolphin) ♀
bottlenose dolphin ♂
Kekaimalu (wholphin) ♀
bottlenose dolphin ♂
Unnamed calf
Pohaikealoha ♀
Kawili Kai ♀


  1. ^ a b Sean B. Carroll (September 13, 2010). "Remarkable creatures". New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2010. The first captive wholphin, Kekaimalu, was born on May 15, 1985, to a female bottlenose dolphin named Punahele, who shared a pool with a male false killer whale named Tanui Hahai. The wholphin's size, color and shape are intermediate between the parent species. She has 66 teeth – intermediate between a bottlenose (88 teeth) and false killer whale (44 teeth)
  2. ^ a b "Whale-dolphin hybrid has baby wholphin". MSNBC. April 15, 2005. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009.
  3. ^ a b West, Karen (May 18, 1986). "A Whale? A Dolphin? Yes, It's A Wholphin". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2013. “Born at Sea Life Park on May 15, 1985, Keikaimalu was dubbed a wholphin by Sea Life Park’s training staff.”
  4. ^ "Ditching SUVs and Breeding Beefalos". E Magazine. 17 (1): 64. January–February 2006. Retrieved May 4, 2013. (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Family Attractions in Oahu – Swim with Dolphins in Hawaii". Sea Life Park Hawaii. December 24, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2019.

External links[edit]