Great White Sharks Are Being Hunted By Killer Whales In South Africa

The largest great white found was a 4.9-meter-long female. © Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust

It seems that the top predator in the region is itself being hunted by orca, who have perfected a way to kill the sharks and then remove their liver and heart. It may seem odd that the cetaceans are not feasting on the entire carcass – after all, it can’t be an easy job taking out a 4.9-meter great white shark – but it is not an unusual behavior. When hunting whales, for example, orca will frequently kill calves and then only eat the tongue, before abandoning the carcass.

Interestingly, this bizarre spate of killings by orca is matched by the fact that tour operators in the last few weeks have been struggling to find any great whites in the region.

What may have caused this shift in unusual behavior is not known. Perhaps orca and whale numbers have recovered and natural interactions are now occurring, or maybe something else has altered the orca behavior, such the diminishing of its usual prey.

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