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June 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Great White v Orcas? Orcas Win

from the June, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Katherine, the tagged great white shark, continues to patrol the east coast of Florida. The group Ocearch, which tagged the shark off Cape Cod in 2013, said she has been as far north as Orlando. The 2,300-pound shark has traveled 31,000 miles since tracking began.

Is there anything scarier than a great white shark? Well, the corpses of three large great whites have been recovered in the Gansbaai area of South Africa with their nutrient-rich livers apparently surgically removed. What's doing this? It's a pod of orcas that have learned to drown the sharks by inverting them and then simply biting through their trunk between the pectoral fins to remove the prized liver, leaving the rest of the organs.

After the dead sharks had drifted into shallow water, scientists from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust autopsied them (the largest was 16 feet -- 4.9m) and determined that the orca's bite on the inverted shark allows the buoyant liver to float free. Orcas are the great white's only predator.

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