Watch a Lone Orca Eviscerate a Great White Shark

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An orca recently made quick work of a great white shark—and the whole incident was caught on video.  The shocking predation event took place in Mossel Bay, situated along South Africa’s western cape.  

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The footage was filmed by Leigh Carter of Go Dive Mossel Bay, a scuba and shark diving outfitter. While groups of orcas have been known to hunt and strip the high-nutrient livers of great white sharks in this area, scientists say this incident is distinct: It’s the first time a solitary killer whale was recorded successfully hunting a great white.  

“The astonishing predation, off the coast of Mossel Bay, South Africa, represents unprecedented behavior underscoring the exceptional proficiency of the killer whale,” said Dr. Alison Towner of Rhodes University in a statement. Towner led research into the incident with several co-authors that was published in the African Journal of Marine Science

The shark involved in the incident was already known to scientists as “Starboard” for its collapsed dorsal fin. Starboard has been known to dine on great whites before, having been a part of a notorious duo that killed and ripped the livers out of 17 white sharks in one day. The shark that Starboard took down solo was an 8.2-foot juvenile white shark.  

“This sighting revealed evidence of solitary hunting by at least one killer whale, challenging conventional cooperative hunting behaviors known in the region,” explained Towner. “These are groundbreaking insights into the predatory behavior of this species, and our findings significantly contribute to the global understanding of killer whale predation dynamics, enhancing knowledge of marine ecosystems and predator-prey relationships.” 

Orcas have already been shown to be pushing great white sharks out of South Africa’s Gansbaai Coast, which was once considered a popular destination for shark viewing. Some scientists worry about the broader implications of the orcas’ predation tactic and plan to research it further. 

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“Over two decades of annual visits to South Africa, I’ve observed the profound impact these killer whales have on the local white shark population,” said Dr. Primo Micarelli, a co-author of the recent study. “Despite my awe for these predators, I’m increasingly concerned about the coastal marine ecology balance.” 



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