WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A recent study found that great white sharks flee their hunting grounds whenever killer whales arrive.
- Scientists believe that the sharks’ behavior is linked to an incident when killer whales killed off sharks to devour their oil-rich livers.
- The killer whales removed the sharks’ livers with precision by biting them near their pectoral fins and then squeezing their livers out ‘like toothpaste.’
Killer whales have developed a terrifying skill: squeezing great white sharks “like tubes of toothpaste” to extract their livers.
It was recently discovered that the great white sharks thought to be the ocean’s top predators are now terrified of killer whales that they flee their hunting grounds whenever the orcas are nearby.
Scientists tracked 17 sharks off the coast of California and observed that they would quickly leave the area when killer whales arrived. The sharks would then stay away for the rest of the season. This behavior was observed even when the whales only temporarily visited the area and did not harm any sharks.
It is the researchers’ belief that the sharks’ behavior could be linked to an incident in 1997 when killer whales killed sharks off the coast of San Francisco to devour their oil-rich livers.
Meanwhile in South Africa, five dead great white sharks washed up on a beach in 2017, with all of them missing their livers.
The bite marks on the dead sharks suggested it was a group of whales which are responsible. The livers were said to be removed with surgical precision, proving that the whales had been skillful and precise in extracting the liver.
The scientists surmised that the killer whales bite the sharks near their pectoral fins and then squeeze their livers out of the wounds.
Salvador Jorgensen, a co-author of the study and a scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium, told The Atlantic Monthly that the technique was “like squeezing toothpaste.”
Shark livers are reportedly one of the richest sources of calories in the sea, and is therefore a great source of nutrition for killer whales. It is still unknown, however, how they got a taste for the organs.
The research was published on April 16, 2019 in the journal Scientific Reports.
Source: The Sun