Long before killer whales began their “modern ritual” of attacking ships, whites in South Africa had to worry about the temperament of these great marine predators. In 2017, Attacks in which killer whales kill and eat these terrifying creatures have already been recordedwhich was never seen as prey.
Killer whales began attacking great white sharks with a specific goal: the liver of large fish, rich in fat and nutrients. Cetaceans had surgical precision, with photographs from the time showing dead sharks with a simple slit in their abdomen. This is how it appeared on the beaches of South Africa, otherwise it would have ended up at the bottom of the sea, according to researchers.
The killer whale attack was so ferocious that great white sharks disappeared, according to a report Hakai Scientific Journal. The change in biodiversity caused concern in the scientific community because it was sudden. Theories have been raised against industrial fishing, which would destroy the sharks’ prey, or kill them into fish and chips in Australia.
However, it turns out that the change in fauna on the beaches of southwest South Africa was actually a matter of course. Threatened white sharks have spread along the country’s east coast, seeking refuge.
“Whenever you see a significant decline in shark populations, that’s a cause for concern in terms of shark conservation,” says Heather Bowlby, a shark expert at the University of California, California. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada’s federal oceans agency. “In a place where animals were frequently seen and suddenly they were no longer there, some worried they would all die.”
Bowlby and colleagues published a study Which indicates that the disappearance of sharks was in fact caused by killer whales, and by analyzing reports and data regarding the appearance of great white sharks, the team concluded that the numbers of these animals have moved significantly towards the east.
For Michelle Jewell, an ecologist at the Michigan State University Museum, who was not involved in the research, the scientists’ conclusion makes sense. “We know that predators have a huge impact on the movement and use of habitat by their prey, so this [a conclusão do estudo] “It’s not really surprising,” he says. “The thing is, a lot of people aren’t used to thinking of great white sharks as prey.”
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