The Remains of a Great White Shark Appear on a South African Beach After it Was Killed by an Even Larger Animal

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Jul 08, 2024

Locals of a beach in South Africa were left in shock after stumbling across the remains of an enormous great white shark on the sand. The shark had visible wounds indicating it had been attacked and partially eaten by an even larger sea animal, prompting researchers to question what could do this to such a vicious predator. 

This discovery comes at a time when researchers are steadily investigating the evolution of oceanic species and why larger sharks are being hunted and killed by other sea animals. 

Deadly Oceanic Predators

Great white sharks are often portrayed in movies and pop culture as one of menacing sea animals who will stop at nothing to hunt their prey. While the reality isn’t far from this, the shark’s powerful bite over 300 razor-sharp teeth ensure they are amongst the most feared predators in the ocean. 

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Digital artwork depicting a vibrant ancient underwater scene with various shark species. The largest shark dominates the center, surrounded by smaller sharks and a variety of fish

Source: Julius Csotonyi/NPS

Yet these enormous sea creatures are not invincible even with all their power and ferocious personalities. From time to time, the hunters become the hunted, as evidenced by the remains of a shark discovered on the African continent. 

The Discovery of the Great White Shark

In May, locals from South Africa stumbled upon the remains of a 15-foot great white shark washed up on a beach not far from the mouth of the Nyara River. 

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A photograph of a great white shark washed ashore

Source: Wikimedia

The remains quickly gathered a crowd, and before long, experts were notified of the discovery. A team of well-trained Veterinarians later examined the body, hoping to discover what could have taken down such a large predator. 

What Happened in the Moments Before the Shark Was Killed?

While examining the great white, a team of researchers discovered the shark had recently consumed a dolphin, the remains of which were neatly cut up into four large chunks in the great white’s stomach. 

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A few sharks are pictured swimming in the ocean

Source: Freepik

Upon further testing, the veterinarians surmised that the great white was attacked by a large sea animal shortly after it finished eating the dolphin. 

Experts Study the Remains

As the dolphin was killed moments before the Great white, the shark’s stomach had not yet started to break down the remains of the sea animal fully. So this allowed researchers to piece the dolphin back together carefully. 

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A photograph of several researchers pictured working on a project

Source: Freepik

Nonetheless, the shark was killed soon after, showcasing the unforgiving nature of the oceanic food chain. While we consider great white sharks among the greatest of ocean predators, they can even succumb to larger animals. 

The Great White’s Liver Was Missing

One of the most fascinating aspects of the investigation led researchers to conclude that the Shark’s liver was eaten. Yet, no other major part of the great white was missing. 

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A photograph of a great white shark

Source: Wikimedia

Sharks generally have relatively large livers, ranging between 5% and 25% of their entire body mass. A three-ton great white can have a liver that weighs over 450 kg, which is full of essential vitamins and minerals. According to researchers, this is likely why the shark was attacked. 

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What Killed the Great White Shark?

It’s hard to imagine any sea animal picking a fight with a great white and living to tell the tale. However, researchers believe they know what attacked the shark and killed it. 

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A photograph of several orcas

Source: Wikimedia

Experts surmise an even larger Orca was behind the shark’s death. Often referred to as killer whales, Orcas have been observed targeting and hunting great whites, which has placed them at the top of the oceanic food chain. 

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Great White Sharks Only Predator

Orcas are the only sea animals known to hunt great white sharks, which was a deciding factor in the researchers’ opinion on how the shark was killed. On the other hand, Killer Whales are known as apex predators as nothing hunters their species. 

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A large pod of killer whales

Source: Wikimedia

Of course, there are a few other possibilities for the death of the shark, including human boats or an unfortunate accident. However, the missing liver leads researchers to suggest it was killed by an orca. 

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Researchers Come Across Interesting Discovery

In recent years, marine biologists and researchers have discovered orcas often hunt great whites and other shark species simply to eat their nutrient-dense livers. 

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Two female researchers look at test results on an iPad

Source: Freepik

Generally, killer whales are not interested in any other part of the shark, so the remains of great whites wash up on beaches mostly intact despite a few teeth marks and a missing living. 

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Trophy Hunters Collect the Teeth

Before the team of veterinarians collected the great white’s body from the beach in South Africa, several trophy hunters quickly removed the teeth. 

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A man on an Essex beach holding a shark's tooth that was found on the beach. The tooth is dark grey.

Source: Nature Scope/YouTube

Theories suggest that before the locals called in the discovery, trophy hunters had come across the washed-up remains and claimed the highly sought-after teeth for themselves. 

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Growing Trend of Killer Whales Attacking Sharks

Over the past century, orcas have seldom attacked sharks regularly. However, this has changed in recent years, and scientists claim it has become a growing trend for killer whales. 

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A photograph of a large Orca

Source: Wikimedia

Since 2015, researchers have revealed orcas have been responsible for the death of at least 14 great white sharks after hunting the predator for its liver. It’s possible that with the technological advancements of the modern era, it’s becoming easier to track such events,and they have always been common. 

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The New Trend May Experience a Surge

Scientists expect this trend to continue over the next few years, and the remains of great whites and other shark species may become fairly common on beaches worldwide for one key reason. 

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A photograph of Orcas at sea

Source: Wikimedia

Orcas are highly intelligent craters, and according to whale conservation specialist Simon Elwen, they “rapidly learn new hunting techniques on their own or from others,” suggesting the hunting of great whites may grow in the coming years. 

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