Watch orca tear open whale shark and feast on its liver in extremely rare footage
An orca tears open the whale shark and devours its liver in the waters off Baja California, Mexico, shocking new footage reveals. The rare footage shows an orca lying on its back, upside down, under the shark, and then chewing its bottom, causing blood to start flowing out of the wound.
Once the orca has eaten its fill and is hungry, it swims to the surface while the dead whale shark’s body sinks beneath.
The video was captured by James Moskito, the director of Ocean Safaris, a California-based travel company Ocean Safaris, during an excursion into the Gulf of California in April. He saw an unidentified whale shark and went over, soaring six inches (1.8 meters) over it, when the orcas came, according to Live Science. “The killer whales start coming in, and next I know, they’re biting the bottom,” said the researcher.
Whale sharks ( Rhincodon typus) are the largest species on Earth and can reach up to 60 feet (18 meters) long. Healthy adults have no natural predators; calves and wounded individuals can sometimes be prey to the tiger sharks ( Galeocerdo cuvier) and orcas ( Orcinus orca).
Although orcas have been captured fighting juvenile whale sharks, Moskito’s video is the first footage of the animals fighting an adult whale shark, estimated at 27 feet (8.2 meters) long. “It’s over in seconds,” Moskito declared. “They came in, they bit the bottom of the whale shark. Looks like they slurped in the liver, and then the whale shark just fell and descended, with no movement — I’m assuming it was dead.”
Moskito claimed that shortly following the incident after the encounter, he and other passengers on the boat witnessed orcas swat and kill a whale shark. After arriving at the spot, Moskito said they saw the whale shark “just thrashing at the surface with a killer whale attached to it.”
Moskito stated that a massive adult male orca known under Montezuma is involved in each attack. “He’s a known killer whale, and he was with this different pod this time,” Moskito stated. “He was not with his normal pod. He was the instigator of the stuff, even though in the video it’s a female biting it [the whale shark], not the male.”
Shark livers are very nutritious, stuffed with oils and fats -and orcas around the globe have been observed eating livers for a long time.
“Orcas may have learned that consuming shark livers provides high energy and nutrients,” Alison Kock, a marine biologist from South African National Parks, spoke to Live Science earlier this year. “Sharks’ livers are large and buoyant, and they float to the water’s surface when a shark is killed. This makes them easy for orcas to spot and access, compared to other organs that may sink to the bottom or be harder to locate.”