Orcas Horrify Great Whites

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Health Editor’s Note: Orcas do get the title of wolves of the sea since they often hunt with the entire pod, like a pack of  (land locked) wolves.  This type of hunting apparently is what the great whites find unacceptable….Carol

Great White Sharks Are Completely Terrified of Orcas

by Jason Daley/Smithsonian.com

It’s pretty much common wisdom that the top predator in the ocean is the great white shark (that is, if there isn’t a remnant population of megalodon hidden somewhere in the deep). But a new study reveals that the massive shark is not the ocean’s top apex predator: that title rightly belongs to orcas, also known as killer whales.

The revelation comes from a paper in Nature Scientific Reports by senior research scientist Salvador Jorgensen at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and his colleagues. Ed Yong at The Atlantic reports that over the years, while studying great white sharks, Jorgensen and his team began to notice that when killer whales entered the scene, the sharks made an exit, and in many cases did not return for months. In particular, in 2009 the team radio-tagged 17 sharks around Southeast Farallon Island in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a marine and wildlife refuge off the coast of California. The sharks happily munched on young elephant seals in the waters around the island, which they regularly do between September and December. But when a pod of orcas entered the waters for just a couple of hours, the sharks high-tailed it out of there and most didn’t return that season.

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