Orca

Orca showing teeth

Orca

Photo by: Credit: kpa/United Archives/Getty

Credit: kpa/United Archives/Getty

Two Orcas Are Hunting Great White Sharks in South Africa

A killer whale duo has been killing great white sharks off the Gansbaai coast, causing them to flee the area. These orcas have developed a taste for shark livers, transforming the local marine ecosystem.

July 02, 2022

A 2022 scientific study published in the African Journal of Marine Science, has tracked the dwindling number of sharks in the region over the past 5 years, where eight great white sharks were found washed up on shores with wounds indicating an orca attack.

Pair of Orcas

Photo by: Credit: Eric Meola / Getty

Credit: Eric Meola / Getty

The research suggests that sharks may use their ‘flight’ sense to prompt mass emigrations when a major ocean predator is near.

Gansbaai, 100 km east of Cape Town, was once a hotspot for this legendary shark species with travelers from across the world visiting to experience shark cage diving.

This decline of sharks as apex predators causes unprecedented consequences to the surrounding ocean ecosystem. Their absence has caused the emergence of bronze whaler sharks as the new mid-ranking predator in the ecosystem. The bronze whaler sharks are also being attacked by the duo of orcas, who are increasingly becoming skilled in hunting larger sharks. Without great white sharks to stabilize the cape fur seal population, the seals can over-consume the critically endangered African penguins.

A Great White Shark in South Africa

A Great White Shark in South Africa

A Great White Shark in South Africa

Photo by: Credit: Atese / Getty

Credit: Atese / Getty

As it is unusual behavior for orcas, this particular pair may be members of a rare shark-eating morphotype. However, with declining numbers from over-fishing and changing sea surface temperature, more studies are needed to understand how sharks maintain the delicate ecological balance for all members in these coastal habitats.

Next Up

The Highest Animal on the Food Chain: Megalodon Sharks

The now-extinct megalodon and its ancestors may have been "hyper apex predators," higher up on the food chain than any ocean animal ever known.

Is Climate Change Killing More Elephants than Poachers?

Kenya’s Wildlife and Tourism Board has announced that climate change is now a bigger threat to elephant populations than poaching. Kenya is currently facing an extreme drought that is threatening the livelihoods of people and wildlife within the area.

Do Dolphins Have a New Skin Care Routine?

A new study on Indo-Pacific bottle-nosed dolphins reveals that pods might rub themselves on coral as a way to keep their skin healthy.

Are Whale Sharks Now the World’s Largest Omnivore?

A new study finds that whale sharks are the biggest omnivore, disproving previous research on whale sharks’ diets. Researchers were stunned when analyzing whale shark biopsy samples that contained lots of plant material as well as krill material.

The Oldest Complete Fish Fossil was Discovered Thanks to Kung Fu

Back in 2019, three Chinese paleontologists were playfighting during a break from working in the Chongqing Province, China. One was kung-fu kicked into a rocky outcrop, causing rubble to tumble down and exposing an opening in the rock face. Inside, a spectacular fossil lay undisturbed, preserved for millions of years.

Coral Reef Survival Relies on Gene Science and Lower Emissions

Coral reefs across the world are under threat as global warming raises sea temperatures and the oceans become more acidic from absorbing carbon dioxide. While nations work to reduce industrial greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, helping coral to adapt to changing conditions could provide welcome relief for affected reefs.

99% of Sea Turtles are Now Born Female. Here's Why.

Global warming is creating a crisis in sea turtles' gender ratios, where 99% of them are being born female. Sea turtle populations have been facing a significant population decline further exasperated by climate change.

The Ancient Monkey Puzzle Tree Outlasted Dinosaurs. Now It's Facing Extinction.

The monkey puzzle tree is a remnant of the Jurassic era, more than 145 million years ago, surviving way past its ancient dinosaur counterparts. Reaching heights of about 160 feet, the evergreen tree has a lifespan of up to 700 years and stiff scaly branches with rigid spiral leaves. Monkey puzzle trees’ presence in the wild is shrinking and after million years, their very existence is now endangered.

Orcas Earn Their Killer Nickname in Brutal Attacks on Sharks

Six sharks washed up on a beach a few hours away from Cape Town, South Africa. As reported to Newsweek, these great white sharks were found dead, but the remains were meticulously torn apart. So what happened?

Are Sharks Coming Closer to Our Shores?

Scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have speculated that variables related to high urbanization may be driving higher occurrences of sharks within coastal waters. With high increased levels of urbanization in coastal cities, it’s important for our world to understand how ocean life adapts to the changes in their habitats.

Related To: