Great white sharks spotting off South Africa’s coastal town Gansbaai is apparently in decline. And, it seems orcas are the cause. Actually, the first evidence appeared in 2017. Unfortunately, the first carcass was found in the shark spotting haven, Gansbaai. Sadly, since that time, fewer and fewer great whites have been seen off Walker bay and the Cape waters in general. Orcas, also known as killer whales are apparently killing off the largest predatory sharks in the world.
Great White Sharks – where did they go?
Concerned, the government appointed a panel of nine local and international shark experts. Initially, overfishing and illegal hunting posited as the cause. Sadly, five more carcasses were found in 2017. Consequently, the whites almost disappeared from South Africa’s coast. According to a report on 18 November in News24, the scientific study has now confirmed the orcas are killing the whites.
Interestingly, as far back as October 1997, an orca attack on a great white shark was witnessed and recorded by tourists off Farallon Islands near San Francisco. Reportedly, the Orcas only ate the liver before abandoning the carcass. Furthermore, Scot Anderson, a researcher for Monterey Bay Aquarium, says the environmental effect is visible. Historically, elephant seals in the Fallon Islands feed white sharks. However, following the 1997 incident, the entire shark population left the area. Subsequently, the seal population is thriving and impacting the food chain.
Orcas like livers
In Cape Town, marine biologist Allison KockAlison is studying orcas seen eating the livers of broad nose sevengill sharks. Specifically, the sevengill lives in the Cape’s kelp forests. Subsequently, the Gansbaai carcasses indicated similarly-styled attacks. Astonishingly, the only organ consumed is the liver. Impressively, the orcas tear a neat hole between the two pectoral fins. Incredibly, the orcas know the exact location of the liver. Additionally, the video from 1997’s attack suggests the South African orcas are operating in the same manner to kill the whites.
When it comes to top ocean predators, orcas outrank great white sharks as champion hunter. https://t.co/uXbHjkruUw
— Mission Blue (@MissionBlue) August 12, 2019
Summer holidays in the Cape
Meanwhile, Port and Starboard, two specific orcas in False Bay are currently excising livers from bronze sharks. With the great white sharks possibly becoming scarcer, and summer holidays looming, one can only hope the orcas don’t crave human livers. However, that seems an unlikely problem, as KQED noted that “orcas seem to have a pretty universal rule: don’t attack humans. The reason would appear to be both biological and cultural.”
Around the world, great white sharks decrease in population numbers. Heavily hunted by man for their fins and as trophy catches, South Africa leads the way in declaring them a protected species. Hopefully, the orcas just go away and find something else less endangered for dinner.
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