Just when you think orcas couldn’t possible be any more awesome, they get even better. A study in 2019 showed these whales are really good at scaring off the most feared beast in the sea. Yep. Orcas have toppled the great white shark off their ‘apex predator’ throne.
“When confronted by orcas, white sharks will immediately vacate their preferred hunting ground and will not return for up to a year, even though the orcas are only passing through,” said marine ecologist Salvador Jorgensen of Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The team collected data from two sources: the comings and goings of 165 great white sharks GPS tagged between 2006 and 2013; and 27 years of population data of orcas, sharks and seals collected by Point Blue Conservation Science at Southeast Farallon Island off the coast of San Francisco.
The team also documented four encounters between great white sharks and orcas in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which they could then analyse against the other data.
The data revealed that whenever orcas showed up in the region – as in, every single time – the sharks made a swift exit, stage left, and stayed away until the next season. They would choof off within minutes, even when the orcas only hung around for less than an hour.