Giant Great White Sharks are Being Killed in South Africa

Their liver and hearts are being expertly removed.

It’s not often a great white shark washes up half eaten on a beach, let alone three.

What’s killing these apex predators? 

What animal is game enough to take on the king of the sea?

In just a week, three massive great white sharks have washed up largely intact with just their livers removed, two of which, had their hearts removed as well.

This behaviour has never been seen in South Africa before.

Great White Sharks hunted by Orcas in Gansbaai

Image: Marine Dynamics

The first shark to wash up on the South African coast was a 4.9-metre female. She was found in Franskraal on the Western Cape. The sexually mature female weighing 1,110 kgs is the biggest shark to be dissected in South Africa. Researchers discovered that the female was missing her heart and liver. The next day another great white washed up on the shore also missing its heart and liver. A third washed up just four days after, also missing its liver.

So what creature is causing these incredibly particular injuries?

The most likely culprit is the orca.

Great White Sharks hunted by Orcas in Gansbaai

Image: Marine Dynamics

“We have never seen anything like this,” explains great white shark biologist, Alison Towner.

“It seems likely that orcas are again the cause of death but we will confirm after the autopsy. Obviously, this is a very sad time for us all, nature can be so cruel and the dexterity these enormous animals are capable of is mind blowing, almost surgical precision as they remove the squalene-rich liver of the white sharks and dump their carcass.”

It seems strange that the orca didn’t feast on the whole shark, and instead expertly removed the shark’s liver and heart. But this is common behaviour for the orca who has been known to reject the body of whale calves and only eat the tongue.

But the hunting of great white sharks is unusual. Whatever is altering the orca’s behaviour remains a mystery.


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