Marine biologists say a pair of orcas gobbled up 17 sharks in one day in a killing spree in South Africa

Orca whales on port and starboard, which stand out due to their unusual fins

Orca whales on port and starboard, which stand out because of their unusually sunken finsMarine Dynamics Conservation Trust

  • A pair of orcas in South Africa killed 17 sharks in just “one sitting,” marine biologists said.

  • A duo of orcas have been spotted ripping open sevengill sharks to eat their oil-rich livers.

  • The male duo had previously terrorized great white sharks that used to hunt in the area.

A notorious pair of adult male orca whales have killed 17 sharks in “one sitting” in South Africa, marine biologists say.

The Marine Dynamics Conservation Trust team has been tracking the two whales, named port and starboard, which are known to prey on several shark species.

They found the orcas “repeatedly submerging in a small area for nearly two hours before sailing offshore.”

Days later, they found the remains of 11 of the 17 sevengill sharks killed in Pearly Beach. Sevengill sharks can grow up to 10 feet in length.

“Every sevengill shark was ripped open and missing a liver,” said the Maine Dynamics Conservation Trust. The orcas had also eaten the contents of the sharks’ stomachs.

A port and starboard shark killed with the pair having their livers removed

A port and starboard shark killed with the pair having their livers removedMarine Dynamics Conservation Trust

The Conservation Trust said the sharks were washed ashore due to storm and high tide conditions. Alison Towner, a Rhodes University graduate student and research leader, said, “This is the largest number of sharks these orcas have killed in this area in one sitting,” Towner says, “there may well be more that haven’t washed out.” .”

The orca duo have been tracked since 2009 but are most commonly seen in False Bay, South Africa, where they were first sighted in 2015.

They are easy to identify due to their rare sunken dorsal fins.

Great white shark carcass.

A researcher inspects a great white shark carcass.Cari Roets/Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Conservation Trust:

Prior to 2015, great white sharks were commonly sighted in the region and were famous for spectacular breakthroughs when hunting seals, but their population is now negligible.

The carcasses of several great white sharks have since washed ashore at False Bay, all badly injured and with oil-rich livers ripped out. In May 2022, scientists were able to film Starboard killing a great white shark for the first time.

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