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Target Species

Balearic Sheerwater|Harbour Purpoise|Bottlenose Dolphin|Common Dolphin

Balearic Sheerwater

Puffinus mauretanicus

Scientific NamePuffinus mauretanicus

Description: is a small Shearwater, with about of 33 cm in length and with 85-90 cm wingspan. The back is greyish-brown while the belly is brownish dirty white, with little contrast between the dark and the light on the sides, head and chest. There is some variation in plumage tone of this species, and can go from almost completely dark, similar to a Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus (although this is larger), the plumes are similar to a dark shearwater Puffinus puffinus, but never showing the black and white pattern.

Biology: it nests in crevices in cliffs and small islands in the Balearic archipelago, putting an egg in each breeding season. It does not reproduce until the third year. Reproduction occurs mostly between February and June. It feeds on small pelagic fish that move in shoals in the water column of the continental shelf. Is a diver species often associates the dolphins and tunas, in pursuit of prey. Sometimes they feed of the rejections of the fishing boats, especially during the reproductive season.

Distribution: It is distributed on the Western Mediterranean at the time of breeding, migrating to the Bay of Biscay in winter. Is one of the Procellariiformes which is easy to be found in along the Portuguese coast, often near the coast. This species is more common outside the breeding season, between June and October. The Portuguese coast is one of the most important locations worldwide for the wintering grounds of this species, with large concentrations in marine shallow cable and IBAs (Important Bird Areas) of Figueira da Foz.


Harbour Purpoise

Phocoena phocoena

Scientifc Name: Phocoena phocoena

Description: it has a small but sturdy body. Generally, in Northern Europe the adults do not exceed 1.5m and 70 kg and females slightly larger than males. In the Iberian Peninsula there are recordes of larger animals and can exceed 2m in length and 80 kg in weight. The teeth (22 to 27 teeth byhemi-jaw) have the form of human with about of 5 mm in diameter. The colouration of the Harbour Porpoise can be variable but typically is dark grey on the back, clearing up the ventral area that is white. In some animals may be noted dark lines between the mouth and the pectoral fins. Features a short snout with no discernible beak. Has dark fins and the dorsal fin is small and distinctly triangular.

Biology: they are usually solitary animals and, sometimes, they can be observed in small groups of 2 to 5 individuals. The most common groups are made by the mother and the young. They are shy and usually swim away from the boats. They feed on benthic and demersal species but also of species of pelagic fish forming shoals. Sexual maturity occurs at 3-4 years of age and gestation takes 10-11 months. The females remain with the cubs during first 8 to 12 months and can breed annually. Some females get pregnant while still breastfeeding the cubs from the previous year.

Distribution: They inhabit temperate and subpolar waters all northern hemisphere. As a coastal species i tis observed in areas of less than 200m depth, estuaries and bays. In Portugal, it is distributed along the whole coast, although it is more frequent in the northern zone, between Porto and Nazaré and in the area of Arrábida and Costa da Galé, in areas quite close to the shore. A third major area is the region of the Algarve between Sagres and Albufeira.


Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Scientific Name: Tursiops truncatus

Description: It is robust animal reaching 3.8m length. The teeth (between 20 to 25 teeth by hemi-maxilla) are tapered and sharp with 7.5 mm in diameter. Features a predominantly grey coloration. Despite the slightly darker back is not visible an evident color demarcation on any zone. The darker grey extends from the beak to the tip of the dorsal fin, becoming clearer from the flanks to the ventral area. Features a high dorsal fin and sickle cell. Two morphological variants are known associated with distinct habitats: the ocean bottlenose dolphins are larger animals, with a darker and smaller pectoral fins, and the coastal bottlenose dolphins are smaller animals.

Biology: they feed on fish and cephalopods that they can capture more than 100m deep. Sexual maturity varies with sex, being reached between 8 to 14 years on males and between 5 to 12 years on females. The gestation period lasts about 1 year and a cub is born with around of 100cm. Breastfeeding lasts between 12 to 20 months, causing the reproductive cycle that can last between 2 to 3 years. The longevity estimate is of 30 to 40 years.

Distribution: they occupy several types of habitats on hot and temperate waters. Near the shore or in the ocean. In Portugal, there is a resident population at the Sado estuary. The are, also, frequent in the area of Berlengas and Cannon of Nazaré and all over the coast of Portugal.


Common dolphin

Delphinus delphis

Scientific Name: Delphinus delphis

Description: they are slender animals with prominent beak. With about 40-50 conical teeth of 2.5mm in diameter (like the tip of a pencil) by hemi-maxilla. Individuals of this species have a black coloration on the back, forming an inverted triangular area at the level of the dorsal fin. The flanks in the middle of the body have a yellow or light brown strip and are gray on the back. The belly is white. Adult males are slightly larger than females and can measure up to 2.3m length and weigh more than 100 kg. The dorsal fin is a high and sickle cell.

Biology: the common dolphin feeds on small fish which aggregate in shoals also consuming several species of cephalopods. On the Portuguese coast, the preferred prey is the sardine. Their dives are of short duration and they can reach 70m depth. Gestation lasts for about 10 months and cubs are born with around of 90 cm. Breastfeeding lasts about 4 months. Is a gregarious species and you can find groups of several hundred individuals. The groups consist of animals of different ages, although there may be some sexual segregation. It is estimated that they can live to be 25-30 years.

Distribution: it is the most abundant cetacean on the Portuguese coast. It can be found from North to South, being frequent both near the coast as in oceanic areas. This species is part of the vast majority of strandings detected on the Portuguese coast.


Last Modified: 26/02/2016

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