Stunning drone footage shows three killer whales chasing a 9ft great white shark and eating its liver

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It’s a gripping scene of an orca viciously ripping out the liver of a nine-foot-long great white shark, as two other killer whales watch excitedly as the once blue waters of South Africa’s Mossel Bay turn blood red before the shark sinks to a bottom of the sea – never to be seen again.

The wild story was captured by a drone camera hovering above and is now giving scientists a better understanding of why these apex predators seem to be fleeing this area that was once the shark capital of the world.

Killer whales are known to feast on a great white shark’s liver because the organ is large, fatty and has become the whale’s favorite dish – eight shark carcasses washed up in the Western Cape in 2017 and all lacked liver.

The images are part of marine biologist Alison Towner’s long-term work with great whites. She shared on her Instagram page that the clip is “one of the most incredible pieces of natural history ever captured on film.” ‘

The clip, which is the first to show an orca eating a great white, will air on Discovery’s Shark House Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET, a day before the highly anticipated start of Shark Week.

Shark Week is an annual week-long block of television programming that features only shark-based content.

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The wild story begins with viewers seeing two killer whales splashing and swimming in the waters off the coast of South Africa

Great whites usually congregate in the waters around South Africa due to the large population of Cape fur seals which are the predator’s main food source.

However, what was up to 900 sharks has gone down to no more than 522 and that is because this predator has become the prey.

A great white shark appears from the depths, capturing the interest of the two orcas - but the shark doesn't know what's lurking below

A great white shark appears from the depths, capturing the interest of the two orcas – but the shark doesn’t know what’s lurking below

A third killer whale appears, rips out the shark's liver and eats it.  The once blue water instantly turned red due to the bleeding shark

A third killer whale appears, rips out the shark’s liver and eats it. The once blue water instantly turned red due to the bleeding shark

You would think that the great whites would have the upper hand over the orcas, but they are no match for the whales which are bigger, braver and more strategic.

News broke in 2019 that great whites had mysteriously disappeared from Cape Town, South Africa, and all the evidence pointed to a migration of orcas in the area.

Between 2010 and 2016, shark watchers recorded an average of 205 white shark sightings per year in a 600 square mile section of the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2018 there were only 50 and so far this year none of the feared great white sharks have been spotted.

Once sated, the killer whale releases the lifeless shark.  The carcass slowly disappears in the water

Once sated, the killer whale releases the lifeless shark. The carcass slowly disappears in the water

At least seven great white shark carcasses have washed up in False Bay since 2017, with telltale teeth marks indicating they were shot by killer whales.  Researchers say Great Whites that encounter killer whales will immediately abandon their usual hunting ground for up to a year

At least seven great white shark carcasses have washed up in False Bay since 2017, with telltale teeth marks indicating they were ransacked by killer whales. Researchers say Great Whites that encounter killer whales will immediately abandon their usual hunting ground for up to a year

Between 2010 and 2016, shark watchers recorded more than 200 sightings of white sharks a year in False Bay, near Seal Island (pictured).  In a study published today, biologist Alison Towner reports earlier this month that she tracked 14 sharks fleeing coastal areas of Gansbaai when killer whales are present.

Between 2010 and 2016, shark watchers recorded more than 200 sightings of white sharks a year in False Bay, near Seal Island (pictured). In a study published today, biologist Alison Towner reports earlier this month that she tracked 14 sharks fleeing coastal areas of Gansbaai when killer whales are present.

Pollution, climate change and overfishing of their natural prey have also been suggested as potential causes for the mysterious disappearance.

WHY DO ORCAS HUNT GREAT WHITE SHARKS?

Killer whales are the only natural predator of the great white.

Scientists have found evidence that they nick sharks and eat their foie gras.

Scientists believe this behavior could be behind the disappearance of great white sharks from the waters of False Bay, off the coast of Cape Town.

The Great Whites frequented the area between the months of June through October each year as part of their annual winter hunting season.

They were drawn to the area by the presence of the so-called Seal Island, a rock that was home to a huge colony of seals.

However, they themselves fell to pray to the orcs – and are in retreat.

Towner was also involved with a researcher last month, who investigated the 2017 Great White Hulks off Gansbaai.

Many shark carcasses have washed up without their livers or hearts, or with other injuries unique to the orca couple.

“The research is particularly important because by determining how large marine predators respond to risk, we can understand the dynamics of coexistence with other predator communities,” Towner said.

“These dynamics may also dictate interactions between competitors or intra-guild predator-prey relationships.”

Gansbaai was once a world famous place to spot the legendary Great White, with tourists from all over the world visiting and participating in cage diving.

The prevalence of killer whales may suggest that a decline in prey populations, including fish and sharks, is leading to changes in their distribution pattern.

Other explanations for the decline of Great Whites in the region include shark fishing, fishing-induced prey decline, or an increase in sea surface temperature.

However, while these may have a partial effect, they are unlikely to be the sole contributor to such a sudden and localized population decline from 2017.

Towner said: “Orcas target subadult great white sharks which may further impact an already vulnerable shark population due to their slow growth and late maturing life history strategy.

“Increased vigilance using citizen science, for example reports from fishermen and tourist vessels, as well as continued monitoring studies, will help collect more information on how these predations may have an impact. impact on the long-term ecological balance in these complex coastal seascapes.

“We know that great white sharks face their highest targeted mortality in KwaZulu Natal’s anti-shark swimmer protection nets, they simply cannot afford the additional pressure from Orca, the killer whale predation.”

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