Well shark fans, even if this last month has been abysmal for the sharks it has turned out to be a fascinating month when it comes to the natural world.
On February 19th, two Orcas notoriously known as Port and Starboard due to their collapsed dorsal fins (one to the left and one to the right, hence port and starboard) were observed hunting in the area near Pearly Beach in Gansbaai. A storm that hit the area in the following days provided ideal conditions for the Orcas partially dissected prey to wash up onto the shore.
In total 20 female Broad Nosed Seven-Gill Sharks washed out all with their livers removed, the signature sign of the two iconic shark killers. This species of shark is relatively common in the waters around Gansbaai, where this incident took place. However, the number of sharks killed in this attack was unusually high and has led to concerns about the impact on the local ecosystem. However it is extremely hard to estimate the size of their normal hunting count as these two shark killing specialists only remove the liver of the sharks. This makes the sharks negatively bouyent which means most of their prey sinks to the bottom of the ocean never to be seen.
It's worth noting that incidents of Orcas hunting and killing sharks are not new or unique. These apex predators are known to be opportunistic hunters and will prey on whatever is available in their environment. However, Port and Starboard have become famous for showing up in South African waters in 2017 and decimating the Great White Shark Population in False Bay and Gansbaai. The areas that were once known as the Great White Shark capitals of the world have been reduced to either no sightings at all or a few sightings a year.
A few days after the killing spree in Gansbaai, Port and Starboard made their way around the coast here to Mossel Bay. 2022 was one of the worst Great White Sharks years on record in Mossel Bay primarily due to the two Orcas hunting in the bay on a regular basis. Surely enough since the orcas were sighted the Great White Sharks have disappeared, although it is still unknown if they killed any sharks in the bay. Great White Sharks are pretty intelligent, unlike other species of sharks when Orcas are around the Great Whites display a flight response and move out of the area.
It is well known that the introduction of these two Orcas specifically has had significant impacts on the local ecosystem, Seven-Gill Sharks and Great White Sharks play an important role in maintaining a balanced food chain in the region. Overall, the incident in Port and Starboard serves as a reminder of the complex and dynamic relationships that exist between different species in our oceans. As humans, it's important that we continue to learn about and respect these relationships, as they play a critical role in maintaining healthy and thriving ecosystems.