• Anna Tattelman

Sharks vs. Whales; Who would win in a fight?

Although sharks have little to fear due to their appearances and reputation, there are some other marine animals that frighten sharks; killer whales.


Salvador Jorgensen of the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been researching great white sharks off the coast of California for nearly 15 years. In 2009, the team tagged 17 great white sharks and they spent months surrounding the Southeast Farallon Island. However, on November 2nd of the same year, two pods of killer whales were seen swimming past the islands. Suddenly All 17 great white sharks disappeared in less than eight hours. Their tags were eventually detected in distant waters so they weren’t dead, but apparently fear got the best of them.



Due to their fearsome appearances and rather negative reputations, sharks have a much unfriendlier image than whales. However, killer whales are the more dangerous predator. Orcas have been known to kill sharks in incredibly complex ways. Some can slash their prey with overhead tail swipes after driving them to the surface. Others seem to have discovered that by keeping sharks upside-down, they can cause a paralytic state known as tonic immobility. Orcas are able to kill the fastest and largest species of sharks, for when they do come into contact with each other, the encounters do not end well for the great whites.


Orcas don't usually use the tactic of killing sharks to scare them off. Just their presence and their odor is enough. The effects of many predators are similar. Their sounds and smell produce a fearful area creating terror that alters their prey's actions and location.


While most humans are guilty of deeming sharks to be the most dangerous, maybe we should start questioning the danger of killer whales!



Sources:

https://news.mongabay.com/2019/04/killer-whale-vs-great-white-no-contest-the-shark-always-flees/


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