hourglass dolphinimage credit: David Tipling, photoshelter.com
hourglass dolphinimage credit: weblog.greenpeace.orghourglass dolphin

image credit: dolphinuno.9f.com hourglass dolphin

image credit: antarcticguide.org
Habitat: Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters
Status: Least Concern

One of the most elusive cetaceans on Earth is the Hourglass Dolphin. It was identified as a new species in 1824 from a drawing made in 1820. It is the only cetacean to be widely accepted as a species solely on witness accounts.

The Hourglass Dolphin is characterized by a white patch at the front, above the beak, eye and flipper, and a second patch at the rear. These two patches are connected by a thin white strip, creating a kind of hourglass shape that gives the creature its name.

By 1960, in spite of the decades of whaling in the Southern Ocean, only three creatures had been recovered. As of 2010 only 6 creatures and 14 partial creatures have been examined.

On September 14th, 2010 an Hourglass Dolphin washed up on the shores of New Zealand – the first to do so in over 150 years. While normally pods of Hourglass Dolphins are restricted to Antarctic waters, they will occasionally venture north towards New Zealand’s Southern Island.

image credit: Massey University