Great white shark killed by orcas in Gansbaai

Posted by Anita Froneman on 7 July 2020

Members of the Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) were alerted to a stranded great white shark carcass in Gansbaai on Saturday [July 4]. The female shark was collected and taken to the International Marine Volunteer Lodge and after examination, experts believe it was killed by orcas, according to Marine Dynamics.

Two days prior to the killing, the famous orcas Port and Starboard were sighted in False Bay.

The 3.6 metres-long shark had a large tear between the two pectoral fins with the liver and heart missing, identical injuries to previous great whites found dead in Gansbaai.

‘The carcass also showed signs of multiple shark bites along its pelvic area, likely a result of scavenging after the initial predation,’ Marine Dynamics said. ‘There were no signs that fishing gear was responsible for the death and no tag was observed on the shark. The DICT team took multiple samples, including fin clippings, muscle, vertebrae, gills and jaws.’

It’s not uncommon for killer whales to hunt sharks. In February of this year, two orcas suspected to be the same pair surrounded a great white in Knysna. In 2017, five dead great white sharks washed up on the beaches of Gansbaai with injuries leading experts to believe they were hunted by orcas.

‘Killer whales are adaptable predators and will rapidly learn new hunting techniques and so it is possible that new behaviors might spread through a population,’ Simon Elwen, a marine mammal specialist at Stellenbosch University, told the Times UK.

To view the photo gallery of the carcass examination, click here.

Image credit: Facebook/Marine Dynamics


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