The group, made up of about 15 animals, included adults and several calves and was sighted for several minutes about two miles from the coast last weekend.
The orcas surprised tourists aboard the boat “Airo” which was manned by skippers João Veiga and João Neto, both marine biology students.
“On the tours we see dolphins very often. At this point we have achieved an approximate success rate of 95 percent” said Ricardo Badálo, CEO of Passeios Ria Formosa. “But watching orcas is quite rare and tourists are completely ecstatic. Even for us, who are used to finding wildlife in our waters, it’s very exciting” he adds.
Orcas occasionally travel along the Algarve coast, it is thought that this is due to the annual tuna migration between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
The orca (orcinus orca) is often called the killer whale but is not actually from the whale family, which have no teeth. In fact, with its sharp teeth and gigantic bearing, the orca is the largest dolphin on the planet. Its prey includes fish, molluscs, birds, turtles, seals, sharks and larger animals - such as whales - when orcas hunt in groups. The largest specimens reach up to nine tonnes.