In a remarkable event on a southern Australian beach, a great white shark was found with its body severely mutilated. The shark’s head, tail, and fins remained intact, but its torso was missing significant portions of flesh.
Recent scientific findings have pinpointed orcas as the surprising predators responsible for this attack. Adam Miller, a marine biologist from Deakin University, shared on ABC Radio Melbourne that the bite marks on the shark matched those typically made by orcas. DNA evidence from the wounds solidified this conclusion.
This incident is the first recorded instance of orcas preying on great white sharks in Australian waters. Miller noted that orcas have been observed attacking great whites in other regions, such as South Africa. Before the attack, a group of seven orcas, including three identifiable males named Bent, Tip, and Ripple, were spotted nearby.
The 4.9-meter-long great white shark was discovered near Cape Bridgewater, Victoria. Miller’s team worked with local First Nations and government authorities to examine the shark’s remains. Most of the shark’s body was left uneaten, indicating that orcas are selective feeders. They typically target the shark’s liver, a nutrient-rich organ.
Orcas in Australian waters have developed a unique hunting technique where they extract the livers of their prey, including other shark species. This behavior has been observed elsewhere; for instance, in South Africa, two infamous orcas have been known to prey on great whites since 2015.
Great white sharks, considered a vulnerable species, have an estimated population of around 300 in Australian waters. Orcas are their only significant natural predator. The frequency of such attacks in Australia is still unknown.
Australia hosts two orca pods, each consisting of dozens of individuals. These intelligent creatures are adept at learning and sharing hunting strategies within their pods. Their collaborative efforts enable them to hunt large prey, including adult blue whales in rare cases.
This event underscores the complex and sometimes harsh realities of marine ecosystems, where even apex predators like great white sharks can become victims to the strategic hunting skills of orcas.