Lagenorhynchus cruciger (Quoy
& Gaimard, 1824)
English: Hourglass dolphin
Spanish: Delfín cruzado
French: Dauphin sablier
Lagenorhynchus cruciger © Würtz-Artescienza
Hourglass dolphins are rather stocky, with a large, re-curved dorsal
fin. The tail stock is often keeled. Body length ranges from 142
to187 cm, and males and females are of equal size. Body mass reaches
90 - 100 kg (Goodall, 2009). Colouration is mainly black or dark
with two elongated white areas covering the flanks, in some animals
joined with a fine white line, giving it its common name. The forward
patch extends onto the face above the eye (Goodall, 2009).
The hourglass dolphin is the only small delphinid that is commonly
observed south of the Antarctic Convergence. It is probably circumpolar
in pelagic waters of the Subantarctic and Antarctic zones;south
of the Subtropical Convergence; most records fall between 45°S
and 65°S (Rice, 1998).
Distribution of Lagenorhynchus cruciger: cold
waters of the Southern Hemisphere,
predominantly between 45° and 65°S, i.e. fairly near the
pack-ice (Hammond et al. 2008;
© IUCN; Enlarge
In the South Atlantic, there are no sightings southeast
of the Antarctic Peninsula: The largest concentration of sightings
has been in the Drake Passage, an area with considerable ship traffic
in summer. Most sightings of these dolphins were in an area north
and south of the Antarctic Convergence between South America and
Macquarie Island (Goodall, 1997). Single records as far north as
Valparaiso, off the coast of Chile at 33° 40'S, 74° 55'W
and at 36° in the South Atlantic seem to be exceptional (Carwardine,
1995; Goodall, 2009). The southernmost sighting is 67°38'S,
179° 57 'E in the South Pacific (Brownell and Donahue, 1999
and refs. therein; Goodall, 1997).
3. Population size
Kasamatsu and Joyce (1995) combined data gathered in sighting surveys
conducted from 1976/77 to 1987/88 to produce an abundance estimate
of 144,300 for waters south of the Antarctic Convergence. This still
seems to be the best population estimate to date (Goodall, 2009;
Hammond et al. 2008).
4. Biology and Behaviour
Habitat: Normally seen far out to sea, L. cruciger has also
been observed in fairly shallow water near the Antarctic Peninsula
and off southern South America. It occurs within 160 km of the ice
edge in some areas in the southern part of its range (Carwardine,
1995; Jefferson et al. 1993). The species seems to prefer surface
water temperatures between 0.6°-13°C (mean 4.8°C; Goodall,
1997) or even down to -0.3°C (Goodall 2009). Although oceanic,
sightings are often near islands and banks. High observer effort,
i.e. in the Drake Passage, reflected in high sighting rates (Goodall
Behaviour: This is a boisterous swimmer capable of speeds
exceeding 12 knots. It rides bow-waves and stern-waves of fast boats
and ships, swimming with long, low, leaps. From a distance, this
undulating motion makes it look like a swimming penguin. It will
also swim alongside slow vessels. When swimming fast, hourglass
dolphins may travel very close to the surface, without actually
leaving the water, creating a great deal of spray when rising to
breathe (Carwardine, 1995).
Schooling: Groups tend to be small, which is unusual for
a small oceanic delphinid. Although herds of up to 100 have been
seen, groups of 1 to 14 are more common (Brownell and Donahue, 1999
and refs. therein). Hourglass dolphins have been encountered with
several other species of cetaceans, and may associate with fin whales,
sei whales, southern bottlenose shales, Arnoux's beaked whales,
killer whales, long-finned pilot whales, and southern right whale
dolphins (Carwardine, 1995).
Food: Prefers fish (e.g. the myctophid Krefftichtys andersonii),
squid (Onychoteuthidae and Enoploteuthidae) and crustaceans. Feeding
often takes place in large aggregations of sea birds and other cetaceans
and in plankton and krill slicks (Goodall et al. 1997; Goodall,
2009; Reid et al. 2000).
Goodall (1997) reported that in the South American sector of the
Antarctic and Subantarctic there were no sightings from May to September,
probably a reflection of observer effort. From September to February,
480 hourglass dolphins were counted around the Falkland Islands
between September and February, but none were seen in July or August
(White at al. 1999). The range of the species thus probably shifts
north and south with the seasons (Carwardine, 1995).
Direct catch: It is likely that their numbers are at or
near original levels. There has never been any systematic exploitation
(Jefferson et al. 1993). One scientific specimen was collected during
commercial whaling operations, and several other specimens have
been collected during research cruises (Brownell and Donahue, 1999).
Incidental catch: At least one hourglass dolphin was incidentally
caught in an experimental Japanese drift net fishery for squid around
53°13'S, 106°20'W (Brownell and Donahue, 1999). Goodall
et al. (1997) and Goodall (2009) report on 4 known casualties in
net fisheries in the South Pacific.
Tourism: Increased tourist activity from southern South
America to the Antarctic Peninsula should produce increased awareness
and further sightings of this species.
Range states (Hammond et al. 2008):
Antarctica; Argentina; Australia; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas);
French Southern Territories (the) (Crozet Is., Kerguelen); New Zealand;
South Africa (Marion-Prince Edward Is.); South Georgia and the South
IUCN status: "Least concern" (Hammond et al. 2008). Not
listed by CMS. The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES.
This is a poorly known species with a flexible range, which seems
to be influenced in its extent by the seasons. Vagrants off Chile
suggest that L. cruciger may follow cold currents farther
North. More information on abundance, area of higher concentrations,
home range size, the effect of climate on movements and migrations
is needed. For South American populations, see also recommendations
in Hucke-Gaete (2000) in Appendix
· Brownell RL, Donahue MA (1999) Hourglass dolphin - Lagenorhynchus
cruciger (Quoy and Gaimard, 1824) In: Handbook of marine mammals
(Ridgway SH, Harrison SR, eds.) Vol. 6: The second book of dolphins
and porpoises, pp. 121-136.
· Carwardine M (1995) Whales, dolphins and porpoises. Dorling
Kindersley, London, UK, 257 pp.
· Goodall RNP (1997) Review of sightings of the hourglass
dolphin, Lagenorhynchus cruciger, in the South American Sector
of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. Rep Int Whal Comm 47: 1001-1014.
· Goodall RNP (2009) Hourglass Dolphin - Lagenorhynchus
cruciger. In: Encyclopedia of marine mammals, 2nd Ed. (Perrin
WF, Würsig B, Thewissen JGM, eds.) Academic Press, Amsterdam,
· Goodall RNP, Baker AN, Best PB, Meyer M, Miyazaki N (1997)
On the biology of the hourglass dolphin, Lagenorhynchus cruciger
(Quoy and Gaimard, 1824). Rep Int Whal Comm 47: 985-999.
· Hammond PS, Bearzi G, Bjørge A, Forney K, Karczmarski
L, Kasuya T, Perrin WF, Scott MD, Wang JY, Wells RS, Wilson B (2008)
Lagenorhynchus cruciger. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
· Hucke-Gaete R (ed.) (2000) Review on the conservation status
of small cetaceans in southern South America. UNEP/CMS Secretariat,
Bonn, Germany, 24 pp.
· Jefferson TA, Leatherwood S, Webber MA (1993) FAO Species
identification guide. Marine mammals of the world. UNEP/FAO, Rome,
· Kasamatsu F, Joyce GG (1995) Current status of odontocetes
in the Antarctic. Antarctic Sci 7: 365-379.
· Reid K, Brierley AS, Nevitt GA (2000) An initial examination
of relationships between the distribution of whales and Antarctic
krill Euphausia superba at South Georgia. J Cetacean Res
Manage 2: 143-149.
· Rice DW (1998) Marine mammals of the world: systematics
and distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Spec Publ 4, Lawrence,
· White RW, Reid JB, Black AD; Gillon KW (1999) Seabird and
marine Mammal dispersion in the waters around the Falkland Islands
1998-1999. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK.
© Boris Culik (2010) Odontocetes.
The toothed whales: "Lagenorhynchus cruciger".
UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany. http://www.cms.int/reports/small_cetaceans/index.htm
© Illustrations by Maurizio Würtz, Artescienza