Similar materials appeared already in June, but this was only a small part. The new study provides more comprehensive images, along with data from tags, drones and tour boats that show white sharks fleeing the Mossel Bay area in South Africa for several weeks.
Killer whales have been observed preying on other shark species, but so far there has been no direct observation of white shark predation locally.
“This behavior has never been observed in detail and certainly from the air before,” said Alison Towner, lead author of the study.
Only two killer whales in South Africa have been previously associated with white shark hunting, but have never been seen in action. The new images showed one of the killer whales previously seen, as well as four new ones. The authors believe that their participation is indicative of the possible spread of such behavior.
The study also provides new insights into sharks’ attempts to avoid capture by killer whales. In two cases, the killer whales approached the sharks closely and slowly, and instead of fleeing, the shark stayed close to the killer whale and kept it in sight to avoid surprise. However, killer whales are social and hunt in groups, and researchers believe this behavior is not effective.
“Killer whales are highly intelligent and social animals. Their group hunting methods make them incredibly efficient predators,” said Simon Elven, a marine mammal expert and co-author of the study.