Innovative insights only orca kills great white shark

“Innovative insights”: only orca kills great white shark

In just two minutes, a single orca killed a great white shark. Don't orcas need to hunt in packs?

Off South Africa, a team of researchers observed for the first time how a single orca killed a great white shark – in just two minutes. It demonstrated that orcas do not need to hunt in packs to kill great white sharks, which are among the world's largest predators. Marine biologist Alison Towner from Rhodes University in South Africa, who led the international team, spoke of “groundbreaking insights” into orca hunting behavior.

Orcas, also known as killer whales or killer whales, often work in groups to hunt and kill great white sharks and other large prey. These include sea lions, seals, other species of sharks and sometimes even whales. Orcas can also hunt most of these prey alone. However, no orcas have been observed hunting a great white shark, whose fatty liver is a delicacy for them.

Hunting behavior questioned

In June 2023, scientists observed for the first time how an orca hunted a young two-and-a-half meter long great white shark off the coast of the small town of Mossel Bay in the Western Cape province, and later swam past a boat with the liver in your mouth. “This sighting provided evidence of solitary hunting by at least one killer whale, calling into question conventional cooperative hunting behavior known in the region,” Towner said. The researchers present their observations in the “African Journal of Marine Science”.

A team led by Towner had already discovered in 2022 that a pair of orcas were systematically killing white sharks in the coastal area of ​​Gansbaai. This has been considered one of the most legendary areas in the world for great white shark sightings. The results of this five-year study suggest that the attacks triggered a rapid, long-term mass displacement of great white sharks. As a result, sightings of great white sharks in the region have “decreased dramatically.”

The absence of white sharks is unprecedented in the region and is changing the marine ecosystem, Towner said in 2022. For example, fewer white sharks have led to greater numbers of Cape seals. This has a negative impact on the endangered African penguins, which are hunted by seals. (APA)

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