Starboard strikes again

Posted by Leon.

Once again Mossel Bay has witnessed the first ever predation of a Great White Shark by an Orca (Killer Whale) without the assistance of a drone. Almost exactly a year after the first ever drone footage of a predation was filmed by local photographer, Christiaan Stopforth from Drone Fanatics SA.

On 18 June 2023, "Seaboard" the Orca, as he was dubbed last year, was spotted off shore near Seal Island killing a Great White Shark - the first boat-based witnessing without the help of a drone. a Bittersweet sight indeed being at the right place at the right time.

Readers may recall the magnificent drone footage that was captured last year in May near Hartenbos River Mouth of a pod of Orcas killing a Great White, which made headlines all over the world followed by a long absence of Great White Sharks in Mossel Bay, abandoning their their key habitats to escape the Orcas. This absence specifically affected boat based  shark cage diving operators.

Previous studies indicated that when killer whales were observed in an area, great white sharks often left the scene and would not return for months, illustrating a flight response in the apex predator when faced with a new, stronger apex predator – the orca.

Only two killer whales in South Africa, "Starboard" and "Port", have been previously linked to hunting great whites. Only one of them was observed in the new footage, with four other killer whales. The authors believe the involvement of these four new whales suggests the behaviour may be spreading.

So why just kill for the liver?

Shark livers are rich in vital nutrients and fats, perfect for a hungry Orca. As crazy as it sounds, orcas aren't acting all that differently than humans do. The primary reason that orcas are eating only the livers of great white sharks is because of the nutrient properties that the livers have - and rather than feasting on every meaty morsel, the orcas are meticulously cutting out the livers and leaving the rest of their kill to rot. This preference for a particular organ is not odd for orcas, according to marine biologists. They’re known around the world for going after the choicest cuts from their prey.

The question remains. Who is the real King of the Ocean?

Photo Credits: Christiaan Stopforth (Drone Fanatics SA)