First Proof of Orcas Searching and Consuming Nice White Sharks Seen in Drone Footage


Frequent readers of CNET Science will bear in mind Port and Starboard, the duo of killer whales from a narrative we printed in June, which detailed analysis displaying nice white sharks had been being hunted by the whales off the coast of South Africa. New aerial footage, launched on Monday, reveals one member of the murderous pair — Starboard — truly making a kill. 

The footage was launched on YouTube as a part of a brand new examine, led by Alison Towner, printed on Oct. 3 within the journal Ecology. Towner additionally led the sooner examine which used monitoring and sensor knowledge to indicate the nice white sightings had plummeted because the killer whales moved in. The researchers hypothesized, from proof discovered on shark carcasses, that killer whales had been searching the nice whites and any surviving sharks had fairly actually been scared away from the world.

The brand new aerial footage, captured by a non-public drone operator and a helicopter pilot’s Samsung S21, appears to verify this and is the primary direct proof of orcas killing and consuming nice white sharks. It was captured in Could at Mossel Bay, South Africa, and a few footage had beforehand been launched through the Discovery Channel. 

“This habits has by no means been witnessed intimately earlier than, and definitely by no means from the air,” mentioned Towner, who works as a senior shark scientist at Marine Dynamics Academy in Gansbaai, South Africa.  

The images and video present some attention-grabbing maneuvers — the researchers consider the whales are probably homing in on the nice white shark’s livers, which offer all of the sustenance an grownup, male killer whale may ask for. The footage reveals among the assaults are directed simply behind the pectoral fins, probably to extract the liver. The crew additionally studied images displaying Starboard (a whale simply recognized by its floppy dorsal fin) chowing down on one.

Intriguingly, Towner’s earlier analysis additionally confirmed that bronze whaler sharks, one other giant shark that frequents the South African coast, began shifting in as the nice whites fled. Nice whites generally feed on the bronze whalers, however the bronze whalers aren’t fairly as terrified of orcas… so that they felt secure sufficient to journey into Gansbaai and feed on the seal inhabitants. Nonetheless, a tour operator from the area has seen killer whales assault bronze whalers, too. Actually, no shark is secure. 

Whereas Port and Starboard had been recognized to be searching nice whites, the brand new analysis reveals a number of different killer whales have additionally joined the hunts. 

It is too early to inform whether or not these killer whales are studying the shark-hunting method from their forebears, however the examine states if that is occurring, “it’ll have wider reaching impacts on shark populations and can have to be thought of in future research.” 

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