Lisbon “seems to me to be the only capital in Europe where it is possible to observe dolphins”, underlines Elsa Courela, spokesperson for Oceanário de Lisboa.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, dolphins have returned to the Tagus estuary in Lisbon, where they found an unusual calm in less polluted waters, thanks to restrictions that led to a decrease in maritime traffic, according to the scientists.
What has changed is “the frequency and regularity”
“Currently, we can see them almost daily”, says Ines Matado, biologist and boat tour guide to observe marine species on the Lisbon coast. “Dolphins appeared sporadically”, what has changed “is the frequency and regularity”, she says.
In Lisbon, it is possible to observe mainly the bottlenose dolphin, with a grayish hue, and more frequently the common dolphin, with a slender black and white body, short and pointed bill, which can measure up to two meters and weigh over a hundred. kilos
The return of these cetaceans that move in groups, composed of adult and newborn dolphins, delights tourists and residents of the capital who rediscover this iconic species.
“My father told us that it was possible to see them on the Tagus in the late 50’s, early 60’s, but in the meantime they had already disappeared”, confesses Leonor Sardinha, who is one of the first to participate in the zodiac excursions organized since Friday. fair by the Lisbon Oceanarium.
Last year, the city of Lisbon already received in a statement published on its website the return of the “dolphins of the Tagus”, which once swam in this part of the river, which has its source in Spain and which crosses Portugal. Before jumping into the Atlantic.
Lisbon ” seems to me to be the only capital in Europe where it is possible to observe dolphins “, underlines Elsa Courela, spokesperson for Oceanário de Lisboa.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, dolphins have been sighted in several places on the planet, where their presence was uncommon, such as in the waters between Hong Kong and Macau in China or on the Bosphorus in Istanbul in Turkey.
“Better water quality”
A presence that scientists explain in particular by the slowdown in economic activity, the drop in maritime traffic and the containment measures that have allowed nature to regain its rights in places . An analysis shared by Portuguese experts.
“Less cruises, less fishing, fewer boats on the river, … for over a year the activity has decreased in the Tagus estuary”, notes Sidonio Paes, marine biologist, who also organizes dolphin watching excursions.
These mammals, which feed on small fish and molluscs, also seem to have been attracted by being able to find more fish and “better water quality”, although this cannot be scientifically proven at this stage, stresses the spokesperson for the oceanarium.