A team of scientists has recently published a study in Scientific Reports, where they described a horror-like skill of the killer whales. The study began with tracking 17 sharks off the coast of California, but as the scientists observed them, they saw them fleeing when killer whales approached.
It seems that killer whales are hunting them, but scientists had no idea how that chase would end. Was this a common situation?
Squeezing the Sharks Like Tubes of Toothpaste
The scientists saw that the great white sharks were scared of killer whales. When the giant predators got closer, the sharks would flee immediately. Since fleeing that location, the scared sharks did not return that season, explained the co-author of the study Salvador Jorgensen (Monterey Bay Aquarium) in a press release:
“When confronted by orcas, 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.”
This was actually a standard pattern, and data from the past decades prove it. Back in 1997, killer whales were seen killing sharks just off the coast of San Francisco. Observations revealed that the whales would catch sharks and eat their livers. Fast forward to 2017, scientists learned about other five great white sharks that were found dead on a beach in South Africa. All of them had no liver.
The bite marks and the fact that in those waters there was a group of whales led to the conclusion that the whales have a special skill of extracting the oil-rich livers of the sharks. The study shows that killer whales bite the sharks right in the area where the liver is, and then they squeeze the liver through that wound.
“It’s like squeezing toothpaste,” added Salvador Jorgensen.
Considering that sharks’ livers are filled with calories, killer whales go for this great source of nutrients. However, one question remains unanswered: how did the killer whales figure that out?
This is why the great white sharks were terrified of the Orcas!
Jeffrey is our second lead editor and a graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication – UW–Madison. He’s been a part of our team for over three years, and before us, he worked with more important online publications such as Android Authority. He also had his own blog which he used to share his thoughts about the latest news in science. On Three Zebras, he mostly covers space, science, and health-related subjects, but he’s also fond of breaking tech news. When he was little, he dreamt of becoming part of NASA. Now, his passions are stargazing and night sky watching. His best friend is the Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope.