Great White Sharks Fear Only One Predator. And It’s Not Man!

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There is only one predator in the ocean that Great White Sharks fear, and National Geographic has done a wonderful video on it – SEE BELOW. And by the way, Man doesn’t count – they studied animals only. But no one wonders if great whites fear man – they don’t – a tasty treat that we are. But the reverse is certainly true and if you have a sense at all – getting eaten by a great white is very low on the list!

And ever since Jaws hit the screens in 1975 great whites have fascinated us, and made us fear them even more!

Researchers at Farallon Islands discovered that when killer whales swim by, great whites flee the area quickly. That led researchers to investigate exactly what was going on.

The San Jose Mercury News has reported that:

“After orcas show up, we don’t see a single shark,” said Scot Anderson, a white shark expert at the Monterey aquarium.

Here’s how the Mercury sums them up: Great white sharks are amazing hunters. They can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh more than 4,000 pounds. But killer whales are even bigger, growing up to 30 feet long and weighing 10,000 pounds or more.

White sharks swim 35 miles an hour — faster than the world’s fastest man, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, can run. But killer whales swim just as fast, are stronger and hunt in groups, like wolf packs. And they have been documented, on occasion, eating white sharks, including in a famous 1997 incident that was filmed off the Farallon Islands. Two years ago, five dead white sharks washed up in South Africa, having been killed by orcas. The killer whales had eaten their livers.

A pod of about 35 to 40 killer whales that migrated from the Pacific Northwest was seen Sunday in Monterey Bay. (Photo by Monterey Bay Whale Watch)

“As amazing as it seems when you see a 17-foot shark swim by the boat, along comes a bigger predator, the orca,” said Sal Jorgensen, a white shark expert at the Monterey aquarium, while sailing in a boat in a video from the Farallons that the aquarium posted Tuesday on its website. “It’s pretty humbling to see.”

Apparently even great whites have fears. “We don’t typically think about how fear and risk aversion might play a role in shaping where large predators hunt,” Jorgensen explained. “It turns out these risk effects are very strong even for large predators like white sharks — strong enough to redirect their hunting activity to less preferred, but safer areas.”

“Ironically, a key factor behind the great white shark’s success as an ocean predator,” Jorgensen said, “probably is knowing when to run.”

Jorgensen was lead author of the paper, which was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.