Saturday, November 9, 2013

HD Video: Orca Kills Great White 30 Miles Off the San Francisco Coast

In 1997, a group of whale watchers off the San Francisco, California coast near the Farallon Islands witnessed an amazing event, a great white shark being killed by an orca.

Although various videos have been available of the event, National Geographic is currently airing a special called "A Night of Exploration: Killer Whale vs. Jaws" and they are showing the original footage in HD quality (see below) which is by far, better quality than any of the other videos out there.

The video is mixed with both above & below the water footage including some reenactment. Noteworthy time periods: Actual attack occurs at 2:02.  Actual underwater footage starts at 4:05.

Screenshot: Killer whale kills Great White
A point of interest not mentioned in the video is that following the attack, all the great whites disappeared from the area.

In a 2004 article by National Wildlife titled "Showdown at Sea," they note that from September to December this rocky island attracts thousands of seals and sea lions which in turn brings about one of the world's largest congregations of great white sharks. This annual ritual has been observed by researches since 1989.

But following the orca attack on October 4, 1997, all the great whites disappeared and did not return until the following year.  The seals and sea lions where present as normal and researches noted no other factors that would have driven away the great whites.

Orca consumes great white liver
This marked the first time researchers had not observed any great whites in the Farallon Islands area during this time frame.  Was it just a coincidence?  Apparently not, because in 2000 another orca in almost the same area of the 1997 attack was observed consuming a large piece of white flesh which was not believed to be from a mammal.  And just like in 1997, following this killer whale attack, no great whites were observed for the remainder of the season.

But most shocking about the 2000 attack is that approximately six months later, a tagged great white named Tipfin who frequented the Farallon Islands had his tag pop off which provided researcher Schulman-Janiger with a surprising minute-by-minute account of Tipfin's movements immediately after the attack.

"On the hour of the attack, Tipfin abruptly dropped to 500 meters and headed west," says Pyle. "He swam all the way to Hawaii."  Coincidence?  You decide.
Video can be a bit slow to load (3-4 seconds). Sorry for the NatGeo mandated autoplay. Trouble viewing? Watch here.