A couple of killer whales are hunting great white sharks and eating their organs

In the 2010 science fiction thriller Repo Men, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, artificial organs are fatally taken from individuals if they fail to make regular payments for their use. Its a nightmare scenario, but one which thankfully hasnt manifested in the real world.

In the animal kingdom, however, things are a little different, especially if youre a great white shark in the coastal regions around South Africa. In 2017, two killer whales showed up in the region and promptly began hunting and killing great white sharks. Since then, eight carcasses have washed up on shore, and although that certainly only represents a fraction of their kills, all but one of them had their livers removed. Several were also missing hearts. Analysis of the wounds left on the sharks bodies indicates that they have all been killed by the same two animals.

While it is known that killer whales are capable of these sorts of attacks on other large animals, it is unusual that its happening so frequently and in such close proximity to the coast. That got scientists wondering about how this shifting dynamic might be impacting shark populations and the rest of the surrounding ocean ecosystem.

Alison Towner from the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa, and colleagues, set to work studying the phenomenon. Their results were recently published in the African Journal of Marine Science.

Shark-eating killer whales are quite rare. They are generally....

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