Scientists have released results indicating that orcas hunt great white sharks after the marine animal was seen on video killing one of the world's biggest sea predators.
In helicopter and drone video published this week, a pod of killer whales is seen hunting sharks for an hour off the coast of Mossel Bay, a port town in the southern Western Cape region.
Drone video showing orcas moving in for the kill
“This behaviour has never been witnessed in detail before, and certainly never from the air,” said Alison Towner, a shark scientist at Marine Dynamics Academy in Gansbaai, South Africa, and main author of the research.
One clip from the movie, shot in May, shows five orcas hunting and killing a great white whale, and experts estimate three more were killed during the hunt.
“Killer whales are highly intelligent and social animals. Their group hunting methods make them incredibly effective predators,” said Simon Elwen, a marine mammal expert and research co-author.
Orcas have been known to feed on other shark species, although evidence of assaults on great whites up till now has been scarce.
One of the whales had previously fought great whites, but the other four had not. According to the scientists, this suggests that the habit is spreading since previous research has shown that black-and-white animals may learn from one another via “cultural transmission.”
Sharks vanished from the region following the assault, with just one great white spotted in the 45 days that followed, according to the report, which was published in the journal Ecology. According to the scientists, this demonstrates sharks have a flight reaction and may have larger consequences.
According to Alison Kock, a marine scientist at South African National Parks, in previously recorded examples, the animals ended up leaving vital sites, with repercussions for the ecology and shark-related tourism.
Source: The Guardian
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