Great white sharks are wimps compared to killer whales

Norway. iStock

Norway. iStock

"On average we document around 40 elephant seal predation events by white sharks at Southeast Farallon Island each season", said marine biologist Scot Anderson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Numerous shark bodies which wash ashore have visible wounds which were caused by orcas.

Orcas scared off great white sharks from key hunting grounds, the research found.

From 2006 to 2013 there was a number of 165 great whites the scientists aimed, attracting them with seal decoys created out of carpets to the boats, and then attaching to their bodies beacons that sent data to sensors all over their area. "By supplementing the Aquarium's new shark tagging data with Point Blue's long-term monitoring of wildlife at the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, we were able to conclusively show how white sharks clear out of the area when the orcas show up".

It is known that transient orcas will indulge in a quick meal and hunt elephant seals, but these events are quite rare since they prefer fish.

Tornado Watch: Threat continues through Friday evening
Near Demopolis Lock and Dam, the river reached 69.1 feet - while the flood stage (after which flooding is possible) is at 68 feet. The strong storms that roared through Thursday night and into Friday morning killed two MS drivers and a woman in Alabama.

If you were given a few seconds to name a sea creature you wouldn't want to run into during a swim on the beach there's a good chance you'd arrive at "a shark".

"When confronted by orcas, [great] white sharks will immediately vacate their preferred hunting ground and will not return for up to a year, even though the orcas are only passing through", Salvador Jorgensen, senior research scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium and lead author of the study, said in a Monterey Bay Aquarium press release. The team say the findings show that food chains are complicated-and interaction between top predators in the ocean is hard to understand because it is so rarely documented.

"I think this demonstrates how food chains are not always linear", Jorgensen said. "It turns out these risk effects are very strong even for large predators like white sharks-strong enough to redirect their hunting activity to less preferred but safer areas". It's still a little unclear why, but the orca-killed sharks that wash ashore (one is pictured at the top of the page) are missing their livers - their delicious, oil-rich, full-of-vitamins livers. In False Bay, South Africa, scientists discovered the remains of sevengill sharks that had been killed with "a specialized feeding method in which only the liver of each shark was consumed".

It appears one of the most fear-inducing predators in the ocean may have a fear of its own. White sharks gather in the area the researchers were investigating each fall between September and December to hunt for young elephant seals. In every encounter, the sharks sped away within minutes of the orcas visiting and didn't return until the next season. Great white sharks can grow up to 20-feet-long and weigh more than 4,000 pounds, The Mercury News noted. This was true even when the killer whales were present for less than an hour.

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