Researchers Hunt 'Super Predator' That Devoured Great White Shark

As Discovery's Shark Week continues its yearly ratings dominance, one researcher is furthering his quest to identify the "Super Predator" that captured the public imagination after it was revealed to have attacked and devoured a mature great white shark.

The existence of a "super predator" was first alleged in a documentary by cinematographer David Riggs that aired on the Smithsonian Channel last year, as IFLScience reports. The incident that inspired the documentary transpired in 2003, though it was first brought to widespread attention in 2014. As part of a large-scale study, a healthy, nine-foot-long female great white was tagged by researchers, yet when the device attached to the animal washed ashore four months later, it suggested that an even larger predator could be swimming in Australian waters.

Once the tag was examined, researchers were astonished to find that the white shark had experienced a sudden plunge in depth, associated with a rise in temperature at the same time. The data suggested that the white shark had been attacked and eaten by a larger animal, referred to as a "super predator."

"The question that not only came to my mind but everyone's mind who was involved was, 'what did that?' It was obviously eaten," Riggs asserted. "What's gonna eat a shark that big? What could kill a 3 meter great white?"

Researchers have struggled to answer that question, as the Inquisitr previously reported, and some have asserted that another, much larger white shark could be the super predator. A 16-foot-long shark, they theorize, could have experienced a territorial dispute with the smaller great white, or have even resorted to cannibalism.

As part of the 2015 edition of Shark Week, Riggs is returning to the hunt for the super predator once again in a special entitled, appropriately, Super Predator. As Yahoo News reports, Riggs attempts in the special to lure the super predator from the deep using a 15-foot-long giant squid replica, while also employing a "Flying Machine" that allows divers to be protected while submerged. The vehicle experienced at least one attack from an inquisitive great white shark during filming, leading to one of Shark Week's most interesting moments.

Discovery will air the special tonight at 9 p.m., and while it is unclear what further evidence Riggs' hunt will turn up regarding the super predator, Shark Week will nevertheless continue unabated until July 12.

[Photo by Ryan Pierse / Getty Images]