Orcas are Targeting Great Whites

By Corey Bennett

Everyone thinks that Great Whites are the most dangerous creature in the ocean. However, there is a larger, more aggressive, creature in the deep: the Orca, better known as the Killer Whale. They got their name from ancient sailors who saw them hunting in groups, and taking down large whales. Though they haven’t been hunting whales recently, they have been hunting sharks. Orcas are the most widely distributed mammal on the planet, being found in every ocean on the planet. They have a large food pallet ranging from penguins to great white sharks.  

In May of this year, drone footage was found where a group of Orcas were seen hunting down and killing a Great White. Scientists believe that three more sharks were also brutally murdered during this hunt. Orcas have been known to be the apex predator of the ocean, and have been known to prey on other shark species. But evidence on these attacks towards great whites was previously limited. These studies did not look at the reasons for this behavior. 

One of these Orcas has been known to attack great white sharks before,

however the other Orcas have not. This could mean that this practice of hunting down Great Whites could be spreading. Earlier studies done on these whales have shown that they can learn from each other through “cultural transmission”. 

Around the same time that the first Great White was killed, a helicopter pilot watched and saw two other sharks being killed in the same area. The short video clips and the photos that the pilot took appear to show the same group of Killer Whales from the drone video before. Several of these videos seemed to show a shark liver floating on the surface, before it was swallowed by a Killer Whale. 

These sharks have been seen fleeing their regular inhabited areas, and fleeing to more public beaches and shallow waters in an attempt to escape these whales. The Great White population is already at an all time low due to over-fishing. Could this practice of hunting by the Orcas lead to the extinction of Great Whites?

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