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Killer whales spotted off Culatra Island

OrcaSmallA pod of orcas has been spotted and photographed off the Ria Formosa island of Culatra.

"We saw 10 or 11 orcas divided into two subgroups, about three to four miles from the coast," said marine biologist Alfredo Rodrigues.

"A typical paternal behavior was observed: males near the boats to divert attention while females and offspring stayed further away," said Rodrigues.

The killer whales were spotted at around 09:00 on Thursday, August 2nd during a dolphin watch expedition to the south of Culatra, run by local eco-tourism company Formosamar.

The orcas are called ‘killer whales’ but they are not whales and do not eat humans. That’s not to say they are not capable of inflicting fatal wounds but the orca is far more interested in tracking down shoals of tuna that move from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean during the spawning season, and then return to Atlantic waters.

Orcas are the largest of the dolphin species and there sightings most years off the Algarve coastline.

Why the name - ‘killer whale’?
Because of their fierce reputation, orca are sometimes called the Ballena asesina (assassin whale) by the Spanish.

They were referred to as "whale killers" by sailors who witnessed their attacks on larger cetaceans, and over time this name has mutated to "killer whales."

 

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