Do any whales crossbreed?


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Yes, but it is uncommon. It is so unusual, in fact, that less than six sightings of hybrid whales have been confirmed and all of them were individuals in the rorqual, or largest, whale group. Five of the six sightings were of a blue-fin whale hybrid, the most recent being an individual who has returned to Skjálfandi Bay, Iceland every year from 2012-2016. In 2010 a hybrid between a common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) was confirmed by genetic tests. In a photograph was taken of an individual that was believed to be a hybrid bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), but genetic tests were never conducted to confirm.

Apparently hybrids were much more common in the 19th and 20th centuries. Norwegian whalers were so accustomed to finding blue whalefin whale hybrids that they dubbed the offspring “Bastards.”