The movies have long taught us to think of sharks as the ultimate ocean predator. But we might need to re-evaluate what we know.
This is because five dead great white sharks have been found washed up on the beach on the south coast of South Africa since May this year.
Eerily, all five shark bodies have similar wounds with holes running between their pectoral fins and liver. It almost sounds like a murder mystery.
The most terrifying aspect of all of this is that it isn’t human beings that are hunting down and killing the sharks – it’s terrifying tag teams of orcas, or killer whales. That’s right. Whales.
Local researchers believe that the orcas are to blame due to their being spotted in the area nearby when the sharks were found dead.
Neither of these creatures are exactly small – with great whites growing up to 6.4 metres long and orcas reaching a whopping 9.6 metres – so the idea of them clashing is pretty cool.
Shark vs. Whale sounds like a battle for the ages, or one of those terrible comedy horror B-movies you’d watch with your mates.
But it is definitely happening, the whales are definitely winning, and no one yet knows why so many shark carcasses have started turning up now.
Orcas off the coast of South Africa have a history of targeting sharks due to their interest in the shark’s livers which are oil-rich and dense-in-energy.
What’s particularly clever, or horrifying depending on your point of view, is how the whales take the sharks down: by taking advantage of a biological quirk.
Sharks are prone to a condition called tonic immobility, which puts them into a calm trance when they are turned upside down. This trait is shared by other sea creatures like rays.
Killer whales are known to charge into great whites in packs, knocking them over and pinning them down, effectively rendering them immobile.
Here’s some brutal footage of how they do it, to prove to you that orcas aren’t as cuddly as you thought:
Of course, if some species of shark stop swimming, they can no longer breathe – meaning the whales essentially drown them before tucking into their insides. That’s some cold blooded shit right there.
We’ll just have to wait and see if more shark bodies turn up – and hope that the orcas aren’t coming for us next.