The Algarve is known as one of the top destinations for sea lovers, not only for its famous beaches and rock formations, but also for the diversity of marine species, such as dolphins and whales.
Along the coast of Albufeira, Lagoa and Silves, lies one of the largest natural coastal reefs in Portugal, which acts as a haven and nursery for various marine species that are born, grow and live in this region. This coastal area is home to around 900 species, 12 of which are new to science.
Discover the Algarve's top marine species to watch this summer!
Dolphins in the Algarve
Common dolphins, delphinus delphis, are narrow, with a prominent beak and have a black colouration on their back and a yellow or light brown colouration from the flanks to halfway up their body.
This species of cetacean is one of the most observed in the Algarve, known for being very sociable, so it is possible to find groups with several Common Dolphins. And it has a particular tendency to approach and sail on the bow of boats!
The Bottlenose Dolphin, tursiops truncatus, is fond of tropical waters and warm oceans, being one of the most observed species in the Algarve. These dolphins have a predominantly grey colouration, with a slightly darker back, but their best-known feature is their "smiling" beak. The bottlenose dolphin is highly intelligent and an active animal when socializing and can provide unforgettable scenes to observers!
The bottlenose dolphin is highly intelligent and an active animal when socializing and can provide unforgettable scenes to observers!
The Harbour Porpoise is a small cetacean, found near the coast and very common in Portugal. Unlike the Common Dolphin and the Bottlenose Dolphin, they are shyer animals, so do not approach boats and are more difficult to observe. Normally they feed alone, near the seabed.
The Risso’s Dolphin, during its life, acquires several scars, which never become the same colour again. This phenomenon makes the Risso’s Dolphin present a special colouring, being that, as an adult, it becomes almost white.
Sometimes, they are also sighted in our dolphin watching experiences in the Algarve.
Although many people think that Orca is a whale, Orca is a dolphin, the largest dolphin that exists!
It normally forms groups of 2 to 10 animals, in a matriarchal association. And, just like the other dolphin species, they also communicate through sounds.
After the human being, the Orca is the mammal with the largest area of geographical distribution, being present in all oceans. These animals that pass the Algarve coast during spring and summer are part of the subpopulation of the Strait of Gibraltar, specialising in the hunting of bluefin tuna.
Whales in the Algarve
Although we have dedicated dolphin watching experiences on a catamaran or rib boat, we sometimes have encounters with other animals.
In the 2021 season, we had seven encounters with two whale species in the Algarve!
The Minke Whale is one of the smallest baleen whales species, and can be seen all year round in the Algarve as our waters are temperate. They tend to be curious animals, so they approach boats quite often!
The Common Whale is the 2nd largest animal in the world and one of the fastest whales in the world!
They are usually found alone, and some scientists believe that these whales are monogamous.
Sometimes we also observe other species on our tours, such as the blue shark, a very common species off the Algarve coast, bluefin tuna, a species that crosses the Mediterranean to lay its eggs in the Black Sea, and even some common turtles.
Come and watch dolphins in their natural habitat with our dolphin watching experiences in a rib boat, for those who like more adrenaline, or dolphin watching in a catamaran, for those who like more comfort.
Besides being able to see these incredible animals up close, we also have biologists on board who will explain you all about the most common cetaceans in the Algarve. Book your experience now!