Carcharodon carcharias, commonly called the great white shark, is one of the ocean's top predators, an animal so tough and powerful that no other animal dares to mess with it! Well, unless you are an Orcinus orca, commonly known as the "killer whale". While it is already known that orcas will occasionally hunt great whites, a new video taken in May of this year has revealed more about how orcas take them on.
The video in question is footage taken via drone in Mossel Bay, South Africa, and shows a group of orcas pursuing and killing a great white, and then one of them devours the shark's liver. A helicopter pilot also captured photos and video clips of the behavior at around the same time.
The orcas in this area target the fatty organs of the sharks, such as the heart and liver. Since 2017 a total of nine great white carcasses have washed ashore in South Africa, with their giant and highly nutritious livers neatly removed from their bodies.
A pen illustration depicting a male orca (Orcinus orca) tearing the liver out of a male great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), while a female orca surveys the scene. Copyright 2022 by Zachary Clamp
In recent years there has been a decline in the great white shark population off the coast of South Africa, and researchers and government officials had suspected it was due to orcas, rather than human induced. And the footage not only offers the first detailed glimpse at how orcas hunt great whites, but also further confirms that orcas are responsible for the flight of great whites from the region.
The footage showed that the shark took evasive action, by circling close to the orca in order to keep in sight of its pursuer. But this tactic is ultimately not enough to escape orcas, as orcas are highly social animals that work together and corner their prey. Orcas live in family groups, called pods, which are the most stable in the animal kingdom. Their sophisticated hunting methods and vocalizations are passed down through generations, so the orcas in the video likely learned their employed hunting tactics from their forebears.
Orcas got the nickname "killer whales" from their incredible hunting abilities. Despite this nickname, they are not actually whales. They are the largest members of the family Delphinidae, the oceanic dolphins. Also, despite being apex predators, orcas aren't threats to humans in the wild (however they have killed and injured people in captive environments).
I'm sure this story is far from over and suspect it's only a matter of time before we hear more about the infamous orcas of South Africa.
Below is the link to the video.
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