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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Hourglass Dolphin: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Hourglass dolphin facts about native to the Antarctic waters.

Hourglass dolphins are unique and extremely beautiful in appearance and have helped whalers locate fin whales. These dolphins are popularly known as 'sea cow' owing to their black and white coloration. It derives its name for its shape and coloration as they have two white-colored markings connected by a thin white band on either flank similar in appearance to an hourglass.

There are 49 species of dolphins and porpoise species are grouped into six families. Hourglass dolphins, Lagenorhynchus cruciger, belong to the same family and are regularly found south of the Antarctic convergence. They are migratory and migrate seasonally depending on the cold water currents. The largest number of these species is found in the drake passage which lies between the tip of South America and Antarctica. In this article, you will find interesting and engaging information about hourglass dolphin species. If you like this article, visit monkfish and Amazon river dolphin facts too.


Hourglass Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Hourglass Dolphin?

The Hourglass dolphin (Lagenorhynchus cruciger) is a type of dolphin and belongs to the Animalia kingdom and Delphinidae family.

What class of animal does an Hourglass Dolphin belong to?

The Hourglass dolphin is a type of mammal. Yes, if you thought that they were a type of fish then this piece of information should clarify your doubt. While fishes breathe through gills, dolphins have air lungs which they use to breathe and they are warm-blooded in nature.

How many Hourglass Dolphins are there in the world?

There are an estimated 144,330 hourglass dolphins that have been recorded south of the Antarctic. There are no direct threats to these species primarily their habitat is largely away from human reach unless in rare instances.

Where does an Hourglass Dolphin live?

The Lagenorhynchus cruciger, hourglass dolphin, is largely seen in the pelagic zone i.e. waters further away from the land, the open ocean in colder regions. Their habitat is known to extend up to the south coast of New Zealand near the South Shetland Islands around Tierra del Fuego.

What is an Hourglass Dolphin's habitat?

Hourglass dolphins (Lagenorhynchus cruciger) live in the ocean. They are the only small dolphin that swims south of the Antarctic convergence where cold Antarctic waters meet the warmer waters of the subantarctic. The warmest recorded surface temperature associated with this species was 13.4 degrees C.

Who do Hourglass Dolphins live with?

The Lagenorhynchus cruciger lives in social groups called schools usually a group of 12. They can join up to form large pods of up to 100 individuals. They are sociable with other species of animals and coexist with other wild fishes and creatures in the oceans. Hourglass dolphins swim where few cetaceans go.

How long does an Hourglass Dolphin live?

The exact lifespan of the hourglass dolphin is not known. They live an average lifespan similar to other species of dolphins. Atlantic white-sided dolphins are known to have lived for 27 years and Pacific white-sided dolphins are known to have lived for 46 years.

How do they reproduce?

Not much is known about their mating behavior. The Lagenorhynchus cruciger, hourglass dolphin, gives birth during the months of August to October. Copulation occurs belly to belly. The female's gestation period lasts 12-13 months and yields a single calf each time. Females protect their calves avoiding research vessels. The juveniles are nursed for a period of 12-18 months after which they become independent and capable of hunting for themselves. They reportedly sometimes kill their young done usually by males to try and take control of the harem.

What is their conservation status?

Hourglass dolphins are classified as Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN).

Hourglass Dolphin Fun Facts

What do Hourglass Dolphins look like?

The dolphin derived its name from the hourglass pattern it possesses. They have a unique cross-carrier, a cross-like color scheme on their flank. Hourglass dolphins have two white-colored markings on their bodies connected by a thin white band on either flank and narrow under the dorsal fin similar in appearance to an hourglass pattern. The dolphin's second white patch begins where the other ends. Its colored black on top and white on the bottom the two white patches are connected by a narrow strip. They have distinctive fins that can be hooked atop a broad base. They have conical teeth which they use to crack open shells of crustaceans. They have 26-34 teeth in their upper jaws and 27-35 teeth in their lower jaws. Males are relatively smaller and lighter in shade than males.

The hourglass dolphins are primarily black and white in color.

How cute are they?

Dolphins are sociable and playful beings and loved by both adults as well as kids all around the world. Visiting the hourglass species of dolphins can be a far-fetched dream since they live near the Antarctic regions. However, other species of dolphins are often displayed in Dophinariums.

How do they communicate?

They communicate using a range of communication channels including sounds, whistles as well as using body language. They are social beings and love to communicate not just to their own kind but to other species of animals as well as humans. They are intelligent and are loved by all.

How big is an Hourglass Dolphin?

The Hourglass dolphin length is 5.2-5.9 ft (1.6-1.8 m) which is five times bigger than the smallest marine mammal the otter which is 3-4 ft (83-110 cm) in length.

How fast can an Hourglass Dolphin move?

Hourglass dolphins are known to be avid fans of bow-riding in the wake of fast boats and can reach a speed of up to 22 kph. They also tend to make a lot of sprays as they surface to breathe.

How much does an Hourglass Dolphin weigh?

The Hourglass dolphin weight is 154-200 lb (70-90 kg). This depends on their diet and their environment as well. The largest member of the dolphin family is the killer whale.

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male is referred to as bulls and the females are referred to as cows. Females are relatively smaller and lighter in shade than males.

What would you call a baby Hourglass Dolphin?

Baby hourglass dolphins are called calves. Females give birth to one baby per birth and both parents equally take care of the juvenile.

What do they eat?

The Hourglass dolphin diet is carnivorous. Their diet ranges from smaller fish to squid, and crustaceans. They share feeding grounds with other cetaceans such as sei, pilot, bottlenose, and minke whales. If food is thrown at dolphins they are known to jump and catch their food. Given that hourglass dolphins largely dwell in the middle of the ocean they consume food available in the water body itself.

Are they dangerous?

All dolphins are whales but not all whales are dolphins. Some species of whale dolphins are dangerous in the sense that they attack both animals as well as humans if they are troubled. Some commit infanticide on their young ones. However, this is not the case with all species of dolphins. These hourglass dolphins are friendly unless provoked.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they are innately wild beings and best thrive in their natural habitat. In the case of the hourglass dolphin, they are further away from the reach of common human beings, and seeing them near human habitats is a rare instance. They are primarily seen in Antarctic regions. Owing to the fact that rapid climate change has led to global warming, this has made the position of such species at threat.

Did you know...

An hourglass dolphin was once seen on the coast of New Zealand on 5 September 2010. It was discovered that it was probably left stranded. Scientists conducted a post mortem on the body to find out more information related to this species. This was a rare event that happened. In the past, such an event occurred 150 years ago. Scientists recorded this event to be a historic one.

Dolphins have a flat cornea hence their eyes are incapable of forming clear images on the retina rendering them blind but the eye may still serve as a light receptor as per records.

Only six complete specimens of hourglass dolphins have been studied as specimens in science making them one of the least understood animals on planet earth. They are not considered endangered, however.  

How do Hourglass Dolphins catch their food?

Hourglass dolphins largely consume smaller fishes. For this, they are known to swim to lower sections of the water body. They have conical teeth which they utilize to cut through possible prey. Trained species of dolphins catch the food if it's through at them. Larger species of whale dolphins are also known to hunt sea birds to prey on and they do this primarily by jumping to catch them.

Do Hourglass Dolphins migrate?

Yes, they are migratory and migrate seasonally depending on the cold water currents. The largest number of these species is found in the Drake Passage which lies between the tip of South America and Antarctica. Climate change has the potential to raise sea temperatures significantly which could disrupt the life of vital marine animals like the hourglass dolphins.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our Irrawaddy dolphin fun facts, and vaquita interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dolphin coloring pages.

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