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Hourglass Dolphin

Is it a dolphin, a killer whale, or a penguin? The hourglass penguin’s dramatic black and white markings do resemble those of a penguin or a killer whale, and this dolphin is a neighbor to penguins.

Fun Facts

  • The hourglass dolphin is the only dolphin living near Antarctica.
  • This dolphin’s Latin name is cruciger, which means “cross,” in reference to the pattern that runs along the dolphin’s sides.
  • Hourglass dolphins are fast, aggressive swimmers. They often swim behind boats, surfing in their wake.
  • They’re one of the few dolphin species that is thriving, probably because they live so far from humans.
  • Hourglass dolphins eat fish, squid, and shrimp. They feed at the water’s surface, drawing crowds of seabirds to eat their leftovers. They live in cold, deep waters near Antarctica although they migrate further north in the winter.
  • Scientists still have a lot to learn about hourglass dolphins because they live in remote areas. We don’t know how many babies they have or how long they live. We do know that they live in groups, usually with 4 to 14 members, but occasionally with up to 100 dolphins.


  1. Dramatic: striking, unusual
  2. Thrive: doing very well

Questions and Answers
Question: How many hourglass dolphins are there in the world?

Answer: Scientists estimate there are about 144,000 hourglass dolphins living in oceans right now. They’re doing well, but climate change and pollution could threaten them.

Learn More

Watch a video about the Striped dolphins.