Great white sharks are the most iconic predators, and its mere presence instills fear in the hearts of animals and humans alike. New research infers that even an apex predator like the great white sharks becomes scared when it hears the distinctive sounds emitted by orcas. Upon seeing them, the sharks will immediately leave the area. They will avoid the same zone for up to one year, even if the orcas passed through while they were going to somewhere else.
The data used by researchers were collected from two different sources. The first one involved the monitoring of 165 great white sharks fitted with GPS tags over six years, from 2006 and 2013. The other one included over 27 years of population data focused on orcas, seals, and sharks.
Four encounters between orcas and great white sharks were recorded in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. A survey of the data proved that whenever orcas made an appearance, the sharks would disappear until the next season. In some cases, orcas spend less than an hour in a particular area, but the sharks continued to avoid it for a long time.
Great white sharks fear orcas
The big winners are the elephant seals which live near the coastline and are often attacked by hungry sharks. According to the team it is estimated that several 40 events where seals are attacked and killed take place each season. The frequency of these events decreased dramatically after orcas were spotted.
It is known that transient orcas will indulge in a quick meal and hunt elephant seals, but these events are quite rare since they prefer fish. Some of the sharks didn’t go very far, opting to move down the coast where other elephant seal colonies could be found.
Many of the shark bodies which wash ashore have visible wounds which were caused by orcas. A vital organ is also missing, and it appears that some orcas love shark liver. The research was published in a scientific journal.