‘Aldegalega’ the dolphin, who was returned to her natural habitat last week, has come back to the River Tejo and experts from Lisbon Zoo say that, having made her home in the old Montijo docks, the dolphin can stay for as long as she wants to. Their only worry is that she could get stuck on the sandbanks again when the tide is low.
The dolphin, an old female, was rescued from a sandbank recently by firefighters and staff from Lisbon Zoo and released back to the sea. There is no doubt why Aldegalega prefers this corner of the Tejo. Biologist Marina Sequeira explains: “Food is abundant. There is plenty of mullet and eel.” The dolphin is “seemingly healthy and is eating”, adds the specialist, who works for the Marine Mammals Support Network at the Institute for Nature Conservation (ICN).
Aldegalega, who is three metres long and weighs around 400 kilos, was named after Montijo’s original name. She will be monitored at low tide by the Montijo Bombeiros and maritime police, and the area in which the mammal last got stuck has already been fenced off to ensure her safety. “She swims around, happy and content”, says the firefighters’ second commander, Américo Moreira.
Marina Sequeira is happy for Aldegalega to remain in the estuary for as long as she likes. “There will be no capture or human intervention while the animal behaves normally,” she explains, adding that it is not the first time that dolphins have entered the estuary, only to leave days later. The biologist also noted that there are cases of “isolated dolphins that become loyal to a certain place”.