It sounds more like a horror movie than real life, but researchers have confirmed that at least four great white sharks have been partially eaten during the past two months, and the main suspect is the area’s killer whale population. Although these incidents don’t mark the first known attacks of killer whales on great whites, they are unusual due to the quantity, time frame and condition of the shark carcasses.
When Great White Sharks are on the Menu
The primary target of these killer whale attacks seems to be the liver, which is highly nutritious. Shockingly, South African marine biologist Alison Kock has described the removal of the liver as being carried out with “almost surgical precision.”
The average great white shark ranges from 1,500 to 2,400 pounds, and their liver is approximately 24 percent of their body weight. In other words, a killer whale weighing up to 12,000 pounds would probably look at a shark’s liver as a tasty snack.
Latest Attack Shows Different Eating Habits
Alison Kock has confirmed that the latest great white shark carcass was missing much more than its liver. In fact, this time around, a killer whale removed the shark’s stomach and testicles as well. In other words, the great white not only dealt with what must have been a very painful attack, but it was also castrated.
Why are Killer Whales Eating Great White Sharks?
Killer whales, which are also known as orcas, eat many types of marine life. Seals are one of their favorites, but they’ll also go after other whales, narwhals, sea lions and a variety of sharks. However, even though killer whales are the only predator to target great white sharks, orcas typically steer clear of them because great whites are better equipped to defend themselves than everything else on a killer whale’s menu.
This fact alone makes four attacks in one region within two months very odd, and it seems to suggest that killer whales are having a more difficult time than usual finding easier prey. There are a number of factors that could have contributed to this, ranging from excessive fishing to climate change problems altering the stability of their natural environment.
Why Humans Should Care that Great White Sharks Are Dying
Most people have been terrified of great white sharks ever since “Jaws” hit their local cinema. Interestingly, Peter Benchley, the author of the book that inspired the blockbuster film, became a big proponent of shark conservation.
“The shark in an updated version [of “Jaws”] could not be the villain. [The shark] would have to be written as the victim, for worldwide, sharks are much more oppressed than their oppressors.”
Sharks kill an annual average of five people. Meanwhile, humans kill approximately 10 million sharks per year. Overall, your odds of dying due to a shark attack are a paltry one in 3.7 million. Researchers have also shown that most shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity, and this is the reason many great white sharks will move on after an exploratory bite.
Despite these facts, sharks may still seem terrifying. It’s important to note that they’re also a huge part of their local ecosystem, however. Without sharks, the ocean would become a very different place. Due to this, it’s necessary for people to be aware of the potential issues that are being unveiled by killer whales hunting and eating great white sharks in larger than usual quantities.