Upon the inauguration of the international airport in 1965, Faro became the administrative capital of the Algarve and the official tourist distributing region.
Built by the Ria Formosa, Faro has a lovely riverside area next to the docks and the Manuel Bivar Garden.
A mix of popular quarter and nightlife spot, the so called “Vila-Adentro”, historical part of the city, is very well preserved, within Roman walls, and has many monuments, museums and fine ancient buildings.
Nevertheless, the main after-hours fun centre is located in Rua do Prior and Largo da Madalena, by the Manuel Bivar Garden and the old customs.
Needless to say, the presence of a University with its thousands of national and foreign students gives a special colourful touch to the city. There are plenty fine restaurants, especially in the historical quarter, as well as terraces, some of which with a view over the Ria Formosa or the docks.
The pedestrian street Rua de Santo António is well worth a visit for its great variety of traditional shops and brand stores.
Although mostly located in large commercial surfaces, we can find modern stores and also in the Algarve’s Stadium, built from scratch for the Euro 2004 and the set for many great events.
The Ria Formosa is a large natural area that you can also visit on a boat tour departing from the Marina of Faro.
The Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is a species of cetaceans that can be spotted in our Marine Life Watching Tours.
This specie has a big range of sizes, shapes, and colors depending on its habitat. It can weigh from 150 to 600 kg and it can measure from 2 to 4 meters length. Its longevity is about 30 to 40 years.
The Bottlenose Dolphin has a well defined nose and pointy fins. Its back is dark gray, fading to white on its lower jaw and belly. Females are smaller than the males and the juveniles show a lighter bluish coloration.
This specie of dolphins inhabits coastal waters, although it can be seen frequently in estuaries, in temperate or tropical waters of Atlantic, Pacific and Indic Ocean. In Portugal can be seen along the entire mainland coast and also in the Archipelagos of Azores and Madeira.
This efficient predator takes advantage of echolocation to determine the position of the preys which include fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. Although they have complicated hunting strategies, due to this technique the Bottlenose Dolphin is able to identify a prey miles away.
This specie reproduction is mainly from April to September, but it can be seen breeding all year around. Each female has only one calf in each 2 to 3 years. When the females give birth they are helped by other females, protecting each other and the calf from potential shark attacks since these may be attracted by the blood. These females also cooperate to help the calf to come out pulling it from the tail and pushing it to the surface in order to breathe.
Bottlenose dolphins usually live in groups consisting of females and younglings, while males form alliances, and can be found with other dolphin species. This is an animal that shows some curiosity when it encounters humans and can be found sometimes playing with boats in our Dolphin Watching Boat tours, side by side with common dolphins swimming at the bow of the boat.
The Short-Beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is one of the most frequent observed cetaceans in our dolphin watching Tours.
In this specie we can find individuals with lengths varying from 1,6 to 2,4 m and can reach 100 to 200 kg in weight, in which the females are slightly smaller than the males.
The short-beaked common dolphin feeds on a great variety of fishes, like sardines, small mackerel, hake or anchovies, and also cephalopods as octopus, squids and cuttlefish.
It can be found in tropical and temperate waters from the entire world, and in Portugal it is present in the continent, and also in the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores.
They reproduce during the entire year, with a higher frequency during spring and summer, mating a little over a year and both males and females have longevity of around 50 years.
Being social animals, they form groups of dozens till thousands of individuals, dividing themselves according to their gender or sexual maturity. Being that they can also be found together with other species of dolphins such as striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) and the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).
They are very active and acrobatic animals, performing aerial jumps while swimming. Being able to move at a velocity of 29 miles/hour, they are very fast while pursuing their preys or moving between feeding grounds.
During our Marine Wildlife Tours they are often seen interacting with our boat, swimming at the bow of the boat.
Sternula albifrons (Pallas, 1764) is the smallest tern found in Europe, and that why it's called Little Tern.
The Little Tern is almost half the size of the Common Tern and its length ranges from 21 up to 25 cm and a wingspan of 41 up to 47 cm. The juveniles have black bills with yellow base, and during breeding plumage the adults have a black crown and white forehead, yellow bill with a black tip, yellow legs and its upper parts are black, white and grey.
This small coastal bird is classified as a vulnerable species, in Portugal. It's a migrator that visits the Ria Formosa Nature Park in Spring and Summer and spends the Winter in Africa (between Guinea and Camarões). Between 2000 and 2002, Ria Formosa has an estimated population of 440 breeding couples. Although the breeding population is stable since the 70's, there is a record of a reduction of their breeding areas, especially concerning the habitat reduction of the barrier islands which are decreasing at a rate of 1,7m/year. For this reason, the breeding areas of the Little Tern have been moving from the beach sandy areas towards the salt pans.
It arrives to the Ria Formosa Nature Park mid April and starts to breed mid May. This species nests in colonies of about 2 to 50 couples. It's a beach nesting bird, preferring isolated barrier islands, between the vegetation and above the high water line and less frequently in salt pans. Its´ nests are a bare scrape in the ground, decorated with fragments of vegetation, small stones and shells. During courtship an interesting habit to see is the male offering small fish to the female.
The Little Tern lays its first eggs (1 to 3 at a time) mid May. The eggs hatch after 20 days and both male and female are responsible for parental care. The newborns, 4/5 days old, start to leave the nest to more protected areas. After 20 days, the chicks are ready to fly and they start their first migration route along with their parents. They will be fed by both parents for the next 2 to 3 months.
The Little Tern feeding habits are mainly of small fish and eventually they also feed of insects, molluscs and annelids. To catch their prey, they fly over the water, scanning for fish, and as soon as they spot one they stop and start hovering, flapping their wings very fast, doing an incredible fast dive to catch their prey.
The Little Tern is one of the most frequently sighted species in Ria Formosa during spring and summer, so if you want to see this lovely bird closely we invite to join us on our boat tours departing from Faro or from Tavira.