Marine tour guide Donavan Smith managed to capture a pair of orcas circling a great white shark off the Knysna coast while with clients. Orcas are known to snack on great whites, usually going straight for the liver.
Initially the killer whale’s dorsal fins indicate their proximity to the boat, a few metres away, with the great white much closer.
In the video, Smith says, ‘this is amazing, this is special stuff,’ as the great white swims past the tourists boat, where the enormity of the sea creature comes into perspective. The orcas are hot on the shark’s tail, engaging in a chase and coming closer to the boat.
The livers of sharks are a favourite for orcas as they are nutrient-rich and very large. In 2017, a number of great white carcasses washed ashore at Gansbaai. After conducting necropsies, experts uncovered that the livers, stomachs and testicles were missing.
In 2019, five dead broad-nosed seven gill (also known as cow sharks) washed ashore on Main Beach in Betty’s Bay. After conducting necropsies it was confirmed that the sharks were killed in the same way that great whites have previously washed up.
Orcas will essentially split a shark open. Each orca grabs a pectoral fin, then the shark is flipped over and pulled apart, splitting open the throat and chest cavity and eventually exposing the liver.