Home » A lone killer whale killed a great white shark in less than two minutes. Scientists say it could indicate ecological change

A lone killer whale killed a great white shark in less than two minutes. Scientists say it could indicate ecological change

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A lone killer whale killed a great white shark in less than two minutes.  Scientists say it could indicate ecological change

A pair of killer whales working together have been killing white sharks along a stretch of the South African coast since at least 2017, plundering the sharks’ nutrient-rich livers and discarding the rest, according to a new study published in the African Journal of Marine Science. The hunting approach has driven sharks away from some parts of the coast around Cape Town, leading to concerns about the balance of coastal marine ecology.

The study revealed a surprising new twist in behavior as scientists witnessed one of the hunters, a male killer whale known as Starboard, single-handedly killing a 2.5-meter juvenile white shark in just two minutes. This solitary hunting behavior by an orca is at odds with the more commonly observed cooperative hunting behaviors among killer whales.

Lead author Alison Towner, a doctoral researcher at Rhodes University, stated that the event is groundbreaking as it challenges conventional cooperative hunting behaviors known in the region. Researchers suspect that the presence of these shark-hunting killer whales could be related to broader ecosystem dynamics.

The study detailed how the event took place on June 18, 2023, near Seal Island, where Starboard swiftly killed a white shark and devoured its liver, leaving the rest of the carcass behind. The duo of killer whales, Starboard and his male companion Port, have been involved in hunting and killing great white sharks for many years, traveling along the eastern coast of South Africa.

Researchers are still puzzled about where the great white shark populations are relocating to avoid the killer whales. The study emphasized the need for additional research and funding to fully understand the dynamics of this predator-prey relationship and its implications for the marine ecosystem.

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Overall, the observations reported in the study shed new light on the predatory behavior of killer whales and highlight the need for ongoing monitoring and understanding of these intelligent, top predators in the ocean.

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