A sociable species, the hourglass dolphin is usually observed travelling in small groups of between 1 and 8 individuals, although groups of up to 60 have been seen (7).
The hourglass dolphin appears to enjoy riding bow waves and wakes, and has been observed altering its direction to catch the waves created by travelling boats and ships (10). It has also been observed riding the bow waves of whales, regularly jumping out of the water as it plays around the larger animals (11). Whalers have historically searched for this characteristic behaviour in order to locate the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). The hourglass dolphin has also been seen interacting with a variety of other whale species, as well as the southern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii) (12).
Little is known about the feeding habits of the hourglass dolphin, but scientists have recorded small fish, crustaceans and squid from the stomach contents of several specimens (13) (14). This species has also been observed feeding in plankton swarms and seabird aggregations (13).
Like all toothed whales, the hourglass dolphin uses echolocation for orientation and prey location. A recent study showed that this species produces very high-pitched clicks, which allow it to detect prey at more than twice the distance of other dolphin species (15). It is thought that the hourglass dolphin is likely to communicate using sight and touch (6).
Knowledge of the parental behaviour of the hourglass dolphin is limited; however, it is known that the female will nurse its young from birth, and based on data from other species in the Lagenorhynchus genus, it is thought that lactation lasts for 12 to 18 months (6).