It was a bad day to be this particular shark. In the waters off Costa Rica, a pod of three orcas grabbed this tiger shark in an embrace that almost appeared loving. Shark was on these hungry orcas menu.
The black and white orcas, relatives of dolphins, turn the shark belly up and hold on gently until it suffocates. The scene is mesmerizing and the orcas work with military precision. Then they plunge into the depths with their meal.
Filmmaker Edwar Herreño, whose work has appeared on CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and on the BBC, filmed the awesome event both above and below the water, io9 reports.
Herreño, who is also a marine biologist, was with scuba diving company off the coast of Costa Rica’s remote Cocos Island National Park earlier this month when they spotted something that is rarely seen — a pod of orcas hunting a tiger shark near their boat. Herreño and Juan Manuel Camargo caught the incredible scene on video, The Tico Times reports.
“After 20 years diving, ten of them at Cocos Island; she gave me the most incredible experience so far at sea,” Herreño on his Vimeo blog. “We were witness of how six killer whales hunted, killed and fed on a tiger shark.”
There have been a series of killer whale attacks on great white sharks over the years off the coast of the Farallon Islands, near San Francisco, California, and in one attack wildlife-watchers got a lesson in orca hunting behavior when they witnessed one of the magnificent creatures overpower a great white. They were shocked by how easily the great white was overpowered, Discover Wildlife reports. Much of the action took place unseen under the waves, so scientists decided to put the pieces together with the evidence at hand to find out why the shark appeared to be such a timid victim.
Eyewitness accounts told the scientists that the orca didn’t bump into the great white by accident. Instead, the huge dolphin purposely changed its course to intercept the shark, who seemed unaware that it was being pursued.
In a burst of speed, the orca surprised the shark, ramming into the creature’s flank and stunning it. Now the shark was dazed and vulnerable. It was easy for the orca to grab the shark just behind the head and flip it over as if it were a pancake. The big fish panicked and its brain released serotonin, calming it down and sending it into a trance. In this manner, the orca easily drowned its prey, Discover Wildlife reports.
A portrayal of the spectacular attack can be viewed here:
As the Tico Times notes, orcas are rarely seen in Costa Rican waters, but for this unlucky tiger shark, even one time was too often.