Killer whale vs white shark: the characteristics of the two predators and how the orca hunts for the white shark.
It was once thought that itWhite sharkwas, in absolute terms, thealpha predatorof seas and oceans. The latest observations by marine biologists reveal a different reality: itWhite sharkcould behunted and killed by the killer whale.
Let's just say thatthe killer whaledoes not exist. The name "killer whale" became famous following a 1977 film of the same name. What we often callkiller whaleit's asimple orca!
L'killer whale (speciesOrcinus orca) it's amammalmarineof the dei familyDolphins. Yes, the "killer whales" and the cute dolphins are distant relatives. Thewhite shark and the killer whale they have several things in common:
- They both became famous with movies
- They are excellent predators
- They share different habitats
What happens when an orca meets a white shark?
Most of the time these two fearsomepredatorshowever, there is no lack of evidence in which thekiller whale hunts and feeds on the white shark confirming to be, in absolute terms, thesuper predator of the seas, i.e. thepredatorwhich is at the apex of the food chain of seas and oceans. Let's see all the details.
Orca: marine mammal
The orca lives in all seas and oceans of the world, from cold waters from the Antarctic and Arctic to tropical seas. The orca has no qualms about hunting, it is popular for the large variety of its prey. It feeds on fish and othersmarine mammals, even of birds such as penguins.
What does the whale eat?
- Pisces (includingWhite shark and other fearsomepredatory fish)
- Sea lions
- Sea turtles
Some killer whales canspecializein hunting a given prey, causing dramatic impacts on the presence of that prey in the given ecosystem. Fortunately, most killer whales (especially in tropical areas) seem to prefer a varied diet.
Theorcasthey eat more than 40 species of fish. Some killer whales from the Norwegian seas and Greenland seem to prefer herring so much that they follow the shoals of herring during their autumn migrations. Salmon accounts for 96% of the diet of killer whales found in the Pacific Northeast.
Only in New Zealand, in the absence of other more appetizing prey, dosharksthey become important prey for the killer whale. In New Zealand waters, the killer whale also preys on rays.
Returning to the topickiller whale vs white shark, we specify that the orca not only attacks the white shark but can feed on other sharks. Among sharks that orca hunts in different areas of the globe, we point out:
- Mako shark
- Blue shark
- Basking shark
- Tiger shark
- Whale shark (younger specimens)
- Nose-nosed beef shark
The orca is very adept at predation. It hunts its prey meticulously, taking advantage of communication with other specimens of the same species. In fact, killer whales are very sociable. Some populations are made up of family groups. They have sophisticated hunting techniques that see, among the strengths, a communication that has gone on to specialize in the same group, through several generations. In this context, we speak of a real one animal culture, common in the same group to which it belongs!
Despite the skills and propensity to hunt, there have never been any attacks on humans. So here's a big difference: the whale does not attack humans while the white shark does. The only documented cases of killer whales they havekilleda human being relate to accidents that occurred in captivity, that is, in an unnatural environment in which the animal felt strongly threatened.
The white shark is hunted in packs
Let's start with the dimensions: lo White shark it can reach 7 meters in length and a weight between 700 and 1100 kg. The body weight of the white shark, after a meal, can even reach 2 tons!
Theorcasthey are the largest extant mammals of the dolphin family: they measure up to 8 meters and weigh from 3.3 to 4.4 tons. Just born, an orca measures just 2.4 m and weighs "only" 180 kg.
Not just size: the orca is the fastest and most agile marine mammal: it can reach speeds of over 56 km / h. The white shark is no exception, even this incredible predator can reach a speed of 56 km / h covering short shots.
TheWhite sharkit lives in all continental waters, it is absent only in the coldest oceans (Arctic and Antarctic). The white shark's favorite prey is the seal. The absence of seals in the Mediterranean is one of the causes of the almost complete absence of the white shark in our waters. Due to the scarcity of prey, it is rare to spot a white shark in Italy, in the waters of the Mediterranean.
The main prey are: seals, tuna and penguins. Like the orca, it can prey on any fish and marine mammal, any except for the orca. In the challenge killer whale vs white sharkthe orca wins: this marine mammal manages to hunt and kill the white sharknot to eat it entirelybut to feed on a part considered by the whale "very delicious": theliver.
Theorcasthey manage to rip the liver from the belly of the white shark, literally, by sucking it! How do they do it? With tail flicks, they weaken the shark. There great white shark hunting, on the part of the whale, occurs in herds. This is why communication between individuals of the same group is important.
Killer whales vs white shark
After surrounding the shark, the killer whales prevent it from escaping, hit it until it spills on its back and induce a state known in animal biology as "tonic immobility". At this point, the killer whales bite the white shark between the pectoral fins, tear the liver area with almost surgical precision, and then suck out the liver and leave the rest of the carcass intact. Thus, thepredator of the seaspar excellence becomes "pate de foie shark "for the orca!
The white shark, taken individually, is a more fearsome hunter: he has developed surprising senses! However, from an evolutionary point of view, the white shark is a solitary animal while the killer whales, like other marine mammals, tend to move in packs making a difference!