May 13, 2017 I Paul Seaburn

Orcas Are Killing Great Whites Just for their Livers

What’s going on with killer whales? While whale-watching tour boats in California’s Monterey Bay are witnessing orcas attacking gray whales in what a marine biologist calls an “unprecedented killing spree,” marine biologists in South Africa are reporting an even more fear-inducing sight … dead great white sharks are washing ashore with their livers eaten out and the attackers are … killer whales!

This is the first confirmed account of an orca predation on a white shark from South Africa. It’s mind blowing to think that a white shark of that size (almost 5m) was a target.

‎Marine Biologist Alison Kock from ‎South African National Parks told Gizmodo about one attack, but there have been at least three orca-on-great-white attacks since May 3rd, according to Alison Towner, a white-shark biologist for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. And, like the attacks in Monterey Bay:

These observations are unprecedented.

Being good marine biologists, the two Alisons and their colleagues performed autopsies on the great whites, starting with the 5-meter (16-foot), 2500-pounder.

It is no easy task to manoeuvre such a huge fish from a remote beach to an adequate site for autopsy. This required a military vehicle and land rover along with lots of manpower and team work.

The autopsies on the three sharks had one thing in common – missing livers, which is a sure sign they were killed by killer whales. The sight moved Towner.

Obviously this is a very sad time for us all, nature can be so cruel and the dexterity these enormous animals are capable of is mind blowing, almost surgical precision as they remove the squalene rich liver of the white sharks and dump their carcass.

Squalene is shark liver oil and shark livers are filled with it, along with other tasty nutrients that orcas apparently love. It’s “apparently” for now, since no one has actually seen the orcas extracting the shark livers. However, there’s no other creature big enough or mean enough to do it.

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Orca attacking a tiger shark

Marine Dynamics, a Shark Cage Diving company based in Kleinbaai, South Africa, is maintaining a blog to provide ongoing information on the unprecedented orca-on-shark liver extractions for other marine biologists, concerned members of the public and budding horror screenwriters. Meanwhile, the causes of these orca attacks in South Africa and California remain a mystery. Where - and what - will they attack next?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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