The hourglass dolphin is a rare species of dolphin that can be found swimming in the Antarctic and Sub Antarctic oceans.
This dolphin is so rare in fact that it is the only cetacean that has been classified as a species based solely on feedback from witnesses.
Only a dozen or so hourglass dolphins have been examined, so most of what is known about this species comes from the rare observations uncovered by those who have spotted it.
In terms of appearance these dolphins have a distinct black and white pattern which resembles the design of an hourglass, which explains how they got the name “hourglass dolphin”.
Most of the body is black, however they have two patches, one that runs from the beak to the dorsal fin and another that starts at the dorsal fin and runs down to the tail.
Both patches are connected by a thin white strip that is located near the dorsal fin.
Their bodies are stocky yet short in length (less than 6 ft) and from the few that were examined they can weigh in excess of 250 lbs.
They have a large dorsal fin and their tail often appears keeled.
At times these dolphins can be seen feeding in large groups near or at the surface of the water.
Like other species of dolphin echolocation is believed to play a large role in their ability to navigate and find food.
Hourglass dolphins appear to prefer traveling in small pods composed of 10 or less dolphins although they have been spotted traveling in much larger aggregations.
They can often be seen feeding with other groups of cetaceans such as pilot whales, minke whales, southern right whales and fin whales among others.
They also appear to enjoy bow riding which involves riding the crest of waves created in the ocean.
Currently it is estimated that there are more than 140,000 hourglass dolphins in existence.
Due to their environment and location these dolphins rarely face threats from getting caught in fishing nets and are not known to be hunted by whalers.