Great white sharks were seen attacking and a killing humpack whale in what scientists said was the first-ever recorded incident. The incident was witnessed by employees from the Ocean Research Institute, who received a tip-off about a humpback whale that had become entangled in a fishing net and travelled to the area to help the cetacean. They later described the incident in a study published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research.
While approaching the whale they spotted two great white sharks that were circling the humpback before one of them attacked it. The second attack resulted in a loss of a large amount of blood. After that the second and larger of the two sharks bit the cetacean the third time and fourth times. The last bite was fatal. The shark bit the humpback’s tale more aggressively than on the previous attacks.
"The attack displayed novel behaviours, including evidence of the bite and spit tactic, rarely described in non-pinniped-related white shark feeding events before and all part of a tactical timeline of an attack that is precise, deliberate and effective", reads the study.
Great white sharks normally feast on carrion and whale carcasses. According to previous studies, the ferocious predators may even base their migration on whale meat supply. While other species of sharks, such as dusty sharks are known to have attacked live whales, this is the first time that a great white shark was seen attacking and killing a whale.
"We acknowledge that this was a singular event, a consequence of the whale being entangled and in poor condition. Therefore, the event should not reflect all white shark attacks on live baleen whales. Nevertheless, this paper presents observations on a rarely observed interaction between white sharks and live whales", reads the study.