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The orca (Orcinus orca) is a species of apex and cosmopolitan marine predator. The subpopulation that inhabits the Iberian Peninsula is made up of a small population nucleus, formed by less than 50 adult specimens, grouped into 5 family nuclei. During the spring and summer, they feed on bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the Strait of Gibraltar and then continue their route along the coast of Portugal and Galicia to get lost in the ocean until the following spring.


Since 2020, the Iberian orcas have carried out a new behaviour, totally unknown to the scientific community, and of which there are no records anywhere else on the planet.


It is about the interaction with boats, mainly sailboats, which imply physical contact with the boats. On certain occasions they cause damage to the rudder, so that the boats are left without steering and have to be towed to port. During this time, two orcas have already died, still due to unknown causes, but this had not happened so frequently in previous years.


The projection on the media, and the transmission of inaccurate information, generated social alarm among users of the sea (nautical sports, fishermen...) and among the general society, affecting very negatively both the perception of the species and the its conservation.


To monitor these interactions, the Atlantic Orcas Working Group was created, made up of cetacean experts from the Iberian coast.


Amigas Project: orcas (FriendSHIP: orcas)


With the aim of contributing to the information and social projection of orcas and their problems, CEMMA and Banco Santander Foundation are launching the Amigas: orcas Project (FriendSHIP: orcas). For two years, materials will be prepared to inform about their biology, communication channels will be created between sailors and scientists, and social impact materials will be designed to disseminate the need for conservation of this small group of orcas residing on the Iberian coasts.

At the beginning of 2023 we will have news about the first results of the project, with the launch of the new web platform, the RRSS and the open APP planned, this will allow us to disseminate these first results so that they are useful throughout the information transmission work. Also very soon will be available the Photoidentification Catalog, which has been working on for more than two years.

Catalogue FotoID

The following actions are being carried out within the project:

Catalogue of Iberian orcas

21,000 images were collected in order to make a catalog of the 49 orcas registered in the Iberian Peninsula. Work coordinated and prepared by Dr. Ruth Esteban Pavo, specialist in the Iberian Orca. There was the collaboration of 29 entities and more than 27 individuals.                 +

Talleres formativo-divulgativos

 Se han diseñado diversos talleres formativos: educativo y de navegación/seguridad, además de talleres divulgativos en base a los materiales editado.   

Taller de orcas para profesionales de la educación.


-Navegación y seguridad:

Interacciones de orcas y veleros. navegación y seguridad

Mobile app

For more than two years we have thought that an application for mobile phones would greatly facilitate the work of transmitting information in the line of citizen participation in conservation (citizen science), that is why this project allowed us to realize this dream that we have developed with great care and dedication, with the collaboration of Julio Marta (acasaateigada), as designer and Juan Suárez (Vansia), as programmer, with the illustrations of Tokio.


The application offers and allows:

- Identify the more frequent cetaceans
- Have information about sightings and orca interactions.
- Consult maps with the most active areas of orcas.

- Send information about cetacean sightings and interactions.
- Inform about security protocols in case of interaction.

You can download it from your mobile in PLAY STORE and APPLE STORE. Look for the application as GT Orcas.​

Available in languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Galician.

Informative materials

Own materials

Poster on the cetaceans of the Iberian Peninsula

This is a poster about the cetacean species of the Iberian Peninsulacreated by illustrator Tokio

Galician/spanish here. Portuguese/english here.

Poster on the ecobiology of orcas

This is a poster about Orcinus orca, created by illustrator Tokio, and it is available in different languages: Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Galician.

Cetacean sheet

Versatile file for the identification of the main cetacean species. created by illustrator Tokio

Galician and Spanish

The Bolechas. Book about orcas by characters created by illustrator Pepe Carreiro.

Bolechas: the candorcas, Galician version.

Bolechas: las orcas, Spanish version.

Carmela Orzán, environmental detective. Book of activities about the character's orcas created by illustrator Manel Cráneo.

Carmela Orzán Galician version and solutions.

Carmela Orzán Spanish version  and solutions.

SALSEIRO, the spokesman of the sea. environmental magazine created by Tokio.

SALSEIRO, Galician version.

SALSEIRO, Spanish version.

Book of the IBERIAN ORCA

It collects the main information about the species, biology, behavior, interactions and recommendations. Collects all information from 2020-2023.

Galician version: medium or high quality

Spanish version: medium or high quality

Video of the IBERIAN ORCA

It reflects the situation of interactions and the moment of change in their behavior. It features gorgeous underwater images of the Gladis before becoming interactive. HERE


Supplementary Materials

We include here various informative materials generated by other entities with which we collaborate in their design, review or dissemination.

“THE ENCOUNTER: A tale of humans and orcas.”

It tells the incredible story of Maruliño and IO (a young surfer and a young orca). Through their experience we will discover that it is possible to relate to the sea and the life that lives in it in a more respectful way. Only available in Spanish. Download it in high quality here.


Workshop "Interaction with orcas" in Lisboa

The conferences and presentations of the workshop "Interaction with orcas" held by the ICNF, the Portuguese Navy and the National Maritime Authority on March 3 at the Lisbon Planetarium, can be seen at this link.

Questions made online were also answered at the following link.






On July 22, at 8:00 p.m., the presentation of the Project took place within the Club Náutico de San Vicente do Mar, O Grove with the conference debate: "A mysterious interaction of orcas with vessels", directed by Dr. in biology Alfredo López.

Specific workshops

Specific workshops are planned: on safety and on training in environmental education, as well as general workshops: for the general public.


We will continue to report dates and places.

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