Off the shores of Costa Rica, marine biologist and filmmaker Edwar Herreño, caught a glimpse of a rarely seen encounter- killer whales hunting a tiger shark. Six orcas quickly surrounded the shark, trapping the shark, and two took hold of it, turning it upside down, to suffocate it, until they finally ate the dead shark together. Orcas are rare in Costa Rica, but this tiger shark had the bad luck of running into these masterminds.
This scene was recorded by Herreño, whose work has been featured on CNN and the Discovery Channel. Herreño was scuba diving on the coast of Cocos Island National Park when he saw the orcas and decided to record the hunting above and below the water.
It was the most amazing experience at sea after 20 years of diving, Herreño said.
This is not the first time a shark has been attacked by killer whales. Killer whales have been attacking great white sharks with some frequency near San Francisco. One attack was successfully recorded by wildlife watchers. In this attack, we see why orcas are so often called killer whales. It is shocking how easy it was for killer whales to overtake the great white. Marine biologists studied eyewitness accounts and evidence left from the attack to see how. What did they find? This specific orca did not casually bump into its meal, but had planned to intercept the shark, who had no idea it was being followed.
The orca sped up suddenly and surprised the shark, ran straight into it, disorienting the shark completely. In this dazed state, the orca grabs the shark from behind and flip it like you would flip pancakes. In its panic, the great white’s brain releases serotonin, which puts it into a trance and makes it easy for the killer whale to drown it.
Killer whales are amazing creatures and are the world’s most powerful predators. We can learn many things about how smart orcas are from how they hunt as a part of our ocean’s ecosystem.