In South Africa, a pair of killer whales are driving and killing white sharks from their ancestral habitat. According to a study published in the African Journal of Marine Science, Great white sharks now avoid the Gansbaai coastal area out of fear, until now considered one of the most legendary in the world in terms of sightings of these gigantic predators.
Eight great white sharks killed
Since 2017, eight great white sharks have washed ashore following an orca attack in the region, according to the study. Seven of them were missing their livers and others their hearts, wounds clearly inflicted by the same pair of killer whales. The researchers suspect that he also killed other white sharks that did not make it to shore. Killer whales are found all over the world and feed on fish and seals, among other things.
The results of the study, which began in 2017, suggest that the attacks have triggered rapid mass displacement and in the long term of great white sharks. Great white shark sightings had “dramatically decreased” in Gansbaai since 2017.
New paper on the orcas Port & Starboard killing white sharks in 🇿🇦. Was lucky enough to be loosely part of the 5th necropsy described here as an intern in Gansbaai 2017 (see pics). Big congratulations to Alison Towner et al. Very nice to see this published: https://t.co/DfSA8UtGnd pic.twitter.com/HRV2AgzIrr
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Port and Starboard
Like criminals in cartoons, orcas were easily identifiable by their battle scars; one whale’s dorsal fin had bent to the right, while the other’s was bent to the left. As reported by Live Science, These characteristics inspired local whale watchers to nickname orcas Port and Starboard. Almost as soon as whale watchers spotted the duo in Gansbaai, a dead great white shark washed up on the beach.
Gansbaai is located in the South African province of the Western Cape. The place attracts tourists from all over the world who want to see the great white sharks from the diving cages.
“We see a large-scale evasion strategy. The more frequently killer whales visit these locations, the longer great whites will stay away,” said study lead author Alison Towner.
The absence of great white sharks is unprecedented in the region and is changing the marine ecosystem, Towner said. The decline in white sharks, for example, caused the number of Cape fur seals to increase.
‘They chomp the liver and discard the rest of the carcass.’
Dyer Island Conservation Trust biologist Alison Towner reacts to killer whales hunting down sharks due to food shortages.
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This has a negative impact on endangered African penguins, which are hunted by seals, he said.
Unpublished data suggests that the presence of orcas, also known as killer whales, continues to increase in the coastal regions of South Africa. It is believed that the pair of killer whales may belong to a special way of eating sharks that hunts at least three species of sharks. Behavioral changes in hunting may be related to the decline of several populations of fish that were previously preyed upon by killer whales, Towner said.
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