Earlier in the year, great white sharks situated near the shores of South Africa were found to be mysteriously mangled, as their carcasses were spotted to wash up on the nearby shores.
With their formidable appearance and skill, the great white sharks have been considered as one of the greatest predators. But now, it looks like their title has been challenged…by the killer whales!
The unfortunate sharks have been having a rough year as five carcasses have been washed up, with their sizes ranging from about 9 to 16 feet! The similarity in each of these dead remains is their brutal wound, which appears as a hole that runs down between their pectoral fins and the liver.
Although it is not unusual for killer whales to target sharks as their prey, varieties of their population feast on different food as well, including fish and even minke whales. For the orca off the South African coast, they’ve been known to target sharks and rays before, and even plucking out the liver while leaving the rest of the carcass to drift away. Yikes!
Researchers have said that they target this specific type of liver (in elasmobranchs such as sharks, sawfishes, rays, and skates) due to the organ’s high-energy content. Sharks actually have a liver that’s rich in oil, which helps them navigate up and down the water column while also giving them energy. It is quite impressive that these killer whales have learned this.
But as to the mystery on why the great white shark’s carcasses have started appearing just this year, researchers are still on the look for answers.