The Species

In our tours you can find four large groups of animals:

Cetaceans, which are dolphins and whales. Dolphins are the main species observed but whales and porpoises are also possible to see. They are the only group of marine mammals that is frequently observed in Portugal. There are at least 14 cetacean species occurring in mainland Portuguese waters.

Birds, may be estuarine birds such as Eurasian spoonbills, godwit, herons, flamingos, osprey or marine birds such as cormorants, gannets, shearwaters, millers, and storm petrels.

Sea turtles, the only representative of the marine reptiles and the most common is the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).

Fish, but we highlight the large pelagic species like the moonfish, sharks and the swordfish. A huge variety of smaller fish can be observed during snorkelling.

Invertebrates, mainly the jellyfish that are sighted during the tours. A large variety of invertebrates can be observed during snorkelling, such as: octopuses, cuttlefish, anemones, nudibranchs, sea-urchins, sea cucumbers and starfishes.

Cetaceans

The short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is the most likely species to observe during tours because they are easily spotted by their regular jumps. They are curious and get close to vessels, spending a lot of time bow-riding.

They are identified by the distinctive yellow and grey pattern with an hourglass shape.

This species feeds on the water column and they are normally found in groups of 10-30 individuals. However, it is frequent to see groups that reach  hundreds of individuals.

 

The bottlenose dolphin (Trusipos truncatus) is the second most common species, usually observed nearer the coast, and they are more discrete than the common dolphins.

They are more than twice the size of the other dolphin species.

This species feeds on both the water column and the ocean bottom. They form groups of 10-30 individuals but can also reach numbers of one hundred individuals.

Portugal has the smallest resident bottlenose dolphin population in Europe, 27 individuals, which live in the Sado Estuary and its adjacent areas.

This species is listed on the European Union’s protected species list and therefore its scientific study and monitoring are crucial tasks for its conservation.

 

The striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) is more frequent in deeper waters and farther from coast.

They can be distinguished by the characteristic lighter “brushstroke” to the dorsal fin.

This species feeds on the water column and usually occur associated with groups of common dolphins.

 

The minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) is the most common whale in Portuguese coastal waters, and is the smallest species of baleen whale in the Northern Hemisphere. Given its small size, the blow is hard to spot, making it a discrete whale. It’s distinguished from other whales by the small size and white spot in the fins.

In the region they appear to be in transit, usually they are solitary animals or they swim in pairs.

 

The harbour porpoise (Pocoena phocoena) may look like a dolphin but is a member of a different cetacean family, the porpoises. Its distribution is restricted to shallow waters but it is extremely discrete, usually avoids vessels and is one of the smallest known cetacean species.

It is distinguished by the small size, very “dipping” dive and almost triangular dorsal fin.

Usually individuals are solitary or swim in pairs.

The harbour porpoise is also listed in the European Union’s endangered species list, and therefore its scientific research and monitoring are crucial tasks for its conservation.

Marine birds

Coming soon

Sea turtles

Coming soon

Large pelagic species

Coming soon