Incredible killer whale sighting delights Sagres dolphin watchers

A rare orca sighting was enjoyed by several delighted dolphin watchers on Sunday (July 24) off the coast of Sagres in the Western Algarve.

Incredible photos of the encounter were sent into the Resident by boat trip company Cape Cruiser.

“We sighted a group of four during one of our morning trips. They were reasonably close to the coast, near some oyster aquaculture tanks,” explained one of the company’s marine biologists, Débora Marujo.

The killer whales, which actually belong to the dolphin family despite their name, spent a good part of the day travelling along the western part of the Algarve coast, which Marujo says is “part of their usual migration route”. They are known to travel along the Mediterranean in search of their main source of food – tuna.

She added that seeing the killer whales is not very common, but is “much more likely during the summer”. Since the company opened in 2013, it has registered only eight killer whale sightings, all between June and September.

On its Facebook page, Cape Cruiser wrote that “the photos cannot show a third of the emotion that we felt seeing them live”.

Marujo said that while the killer whales are not as sociable with humans as the common bottlenose dolphin, “one of the orcas’ offspring was more playful than the adults and came closer to the boat several times”.

Zoomarine’s marine biologist Élio Vicente confirmed that the orcas travel along our waters frequently, but that they are not as commonly seen as other species of dolphins.

He added that despite the name, the killer whale is not “particularly dangerous” to humans.

“They are at the top of the food chain in the sea. When they stalk a prey, they are known to rarely, if ever, miss a strike,” he explained. However, they don’t see humans as “food”.

They can weigh up to six tons and grow to nearly 10 metres.

Weather alert as temperatures soar to 42ºC

Several alerts have been launched in Portugal due to forecasts of “extremely hot weather” and “tropical nights” in the coming days, with temperatures set to be as high as 42ºC.

The news will be music to the ears of beachgoers as wind will not be a problem and sea temperatures are expected to be very pleasant, ranging between 20ºC and 22ºC in the Algarve.

Caution is advised, however. Twelve districts have been placed under ‘yellow alert’ – the third most serious of all – today by Portugal’s Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA) due to the hot weather. They are Beja, Évora, Setúbal, Portalegre, Santarém, Lisboa, Leiria, Coimbra, Aveiro, Porto, Braga and Viana do Castelo, as well as the Madeira archipelago.

Portugal’s civil protection authority (ANPC) has also issued a fire alert, saying that the “hot and dry weather” will increase the risk of wildfires.

Finally, the national health board (DGS) has warned the population to take adequate protection against the heat, especially those who are “most vulnerable” such as babies, children and the elderly.

Drinking lots of water, staying in cool, shaded areas and using sun lotion when out in the sun are some of the recommendations made by the DGS.

Snail festival returns to Castro Marim

Snails, one of Portugal’s many culinary delicacies, are the star of a popular festival that will be held in Castro Marim on the first three days of July.

The town’s Festival Internacional do Caracol will take place at Colina do Revelim de Santo António and feature “the best snails made in the Algarve and Portugal” but also other traditional confections from Spain, France and Morocco.

Also promised is a “rich and diversified” musical and cultural programme of entertainment, delicious regional sweets and the whole lot set against stunning views over the Guadiana River and Sapal nature reserve.

Organised by Castro Marim council, the event hopes to establish the town as “the Algarve’s best destination to enjoy snail dishes” while also promoting “traditional products, cuisine and Mediterranean culture”.