A group of shark cage divers witnessed a rare battle off South Australia this week as a great white shark was attacked and summarily killed by a pod of orca whales.
Twenty three tourists witnessed the attack, which took place on Monday off the North Neptune Islands near the Eyre Peninsula, according to News.Com.Au. Adventure Bay Charters skipper Kym Shepperd said the group first noticed the pod of six whales, including two calves, acting strangely near the bow of the boat. The orcas were making distinctive clicking noises that even the divers underwater could hear.
“We use music to attract the sharks, and some people actually thought we were playing whale sounds as a joke,” he observed. “Then they worked their way to the back of the boat, circling the shark and pushing it down under the water. They did that a couple of times, then on the third time everything went quiet and it was all over. It was absolutely epic.”
— DianeN56 (@DianeN56) February 4, 2015
Charter operator Matt Waller recalled that the whales threw themselves out of the water to land atop the great white. He noted that the shark never went underwater during the attack, instead remaining on the surface in an attempt to escape, according to the ABC.
“If that’s what we’re seeing on the surface, then I can only imagine that under the surface you had other whales that were working to try and keep this shark up,” he mused.
The great white was eventually killed under the surface, and an oily slick spread in the water, leaving little doubt of the shark’s fate. According to crew member and marine biologist Gina Dickinson, the killer whale pod’s movements were clearly orchestrated, representing a concerted effort to dispatch the white shark.
This is what a great white shark’s gills look like from the inside. pic.twitter.com/U2x1g7tavF
— Secrets (@UntoIdSecrets) February 3, 2015
“They were teaching the young, rounding it up in order to attack,” she said. “The intelligence behind it was just fantastic. It was definitely the highlight of my career. Not much is probably going to top this.”
During a study of killer whales undertaken in the U.K. last year, an orca named John Coe was spotted with a semicircular bite mark on his tail fluke, undoubtedly the result of a run-in with a large shark. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the orca is a member of the only resident pod of killer whales in that region of the world.
— Michelle Jewell (@ExpatScientist) February 4, 2015
Senior research scientist Dr. Catherine Kemper of the South Australian Museum related that she was consulting with colleagues to find out if such attacks have taken place internationally. Kemper noted that she had never heard of an orca pod attacking a great white shark in South Australia before.
[Image: Nuttee’s Photography via News.Com.Au]