Role Reversal: Killer Seal Chows Down On Sharks In South Africa

While diving in South Africa, Chris and Monique Fallows witnessed something out of the ordinary.

A cape fur seal attacked — and ate — a large shark. And then another. And another. In total, the seal had eaten the stomachs and livers of two sharks before killing three more.

Chris Fallows, who runs Apex Shark Expeditions, said, “In more than 2,000 expeditions working with sharks over the last 21 years, this is the only time I have ever seen a seal kill several sharks and I can find no record of such an event happening elsewhere.”

Not only did the Fallows witness a seal feeding on sharks, but they also captured a group of blue sharks dining on a school of bait fish while on one of their “sardine runs.” During these runs, the Fallows follow sardines as they leave their cold-water home in South Africa’s temperate seas and travel northward to the sub-tropical seas of South Africa’s Wild Coast.

“This was a first for us and as far as I can research the first time such an event has been witnessed underwater,” Chris Fallows said. “Even though our company runs the world famous sardine run expeditions each year, this spectacle was incredible as it was out in the open ocean, 40 kilometers out to sea, in blue water.”

Callan Duck, a senior research scientists at the University of St. Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit, said while it’s unusual to get a photograph of a seal eating a shark, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a frequent occurrence. “Cape fur seal can weigh up to 700lbs (300 kilos),” Duck said. “It’s a question of size. If you are smaller than me, I will eat you.”

Seal attacks aren’t entirely uncommon. In October, a seal attacked a dog that had gone out to sea in Scotland. The dog, named Fly, had to be put down after the attack.

While these particular seals may have no trouble defending themselves, the same cannot be said about some seal pups on Prince Edward Island. Fifty seal pups, all of which were only a few weeks old, were recently bludgeoned to death. The Human Society International of Canada is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can help find the killer or killers.

To see the full gallery of photos, check out Apex Shark Expedition’s Facebook page.

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