Ocean Film Fest 2010: A Killer Whale Takes Down A... Great White Shark?? (Video)

two killer whales photo

Photo via *christopher* via Flickr CC

Killer whales are fierce apex predators of the ocean. But fierce enough to take down a great white shark like it's no problem at all? Apparently so. In an unprecedented sighting, a killer whale takes on a great white shark who approaches too close for comfort to the whale's pod, which includes a new calf. The documentary The Whale That Ate Jaws describes the whole event as it happened in the waters off San Francisco, California. National Geographic has put together this film about the experience - see the good parts below:

While killer whales are nothing to be trifled with, neither are great whites. It's like Godzilla versus King Kong. And to have an Orca so quickly take out a massive shark is shocking. But scientists think that perhaps Orcas know the Achilles heel of the great white. According to National Geographic, "To prey upon the shark, the Orca has learned how to immobilize it by turning it on its back -- a state called 'tonic immobility.'"

Sharks freeze when rolled onto their backs. And that's exactly the strategy the whale in this film seems to have taken, keeping the shark immobile until it suffocates, then and feeding on it. Here is more about killer whales using tonic immobility in feeding on rays:

If there's two things that can be concluded from this, it's that we shouldn't underestimate the capabilities of the Orca, or overestimate the status of great whites as the untouchable predators of the oceans.

Follow Jaymi on Twitter: @JaymiHeimbuch
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