Great white sharks have mysteriously vanished from one of their most popular hunting grounds — and invading killer whales may be to blame. 

Orcas are the only natural predator of the great white and scientists have found proof that they are gashing them open and eating their fatty livers.

Scientists speculate this may be behind the disappearance of great whites from the waters of False Bay, a celebrated hunting ground off the coast of Cape Town.  

Between 2010 and 2016 shark spotters recorded an average of 205 great white sightings a year in a 600 square mile section of the Atlantic Ocean. 

In 2018 there were only 50 and so far this year not a single one of the much-feared great white shark has been spotted. 

Pollution, climate change and over fishing of their natural prey have also been suggested as potential causes behind the mystery disappearance. 

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Great white sharks (pictured) have mysteriously vanished from one of their most popular hunting grounds in South Africa — and invading killer whales may be to blame

Great white sharks (pictured) have mysteriously vanished from one of their most popular hunting grounds in South Africa — and invading killer whales may be to blame

Between 2010 and 2016 shark spotters recorded an average of 205 great white sightings a year at False Bay, near Seal island (pictured). tion of the Atlantic Ocean.

Between 2010 and 2016 shark spotters recorded an average of 205 great white sightings a year at False Bay, near Seal island (pictured). The 600 square mile section of the Atlantic Ocean is a popular hunting spot but the sharks have not been seen there this year. Tourists hoping to see the Great White’s from cages will now have to travel up the coast to Gansbaai

Orcas are the only natural predator of the Great White and scientists have found proof that they are gashing them open and eating their fatty livers with an incision between the pectoral fins of their prey

Orcas are the only natural predator of the Great White and scientists have found proof that they are gashing them open and eating their fatty livers with an incision between the pectoral fins of their prey

WHY DO ORCAS HUNT GREAT WHITE SHARKS? 

Orcas are the only natural predator of the great white.

Scientists have found proof that they are gashing the sharks open and eating their fatty livers. 

Scientists speculate this behaviour may be behind the disappearance of great whites from the waters of False Bay, off of the coast of Cape Town.

Great whites frequented the area between the months of June to October every year as part of their annual winter hunting season.

They were drawn to the region by the presence of the so-called Seal Island, a rock home to a huge seal colony.

However, they have themselves fallen pray to orcas — and are on the retreat.

It has been two years since the Shark Spotters Applied Research Programme has picked up a signal from any of the great white’s that had been tagged by scientists and were resident in False Bay.

This comes after five great white sharks were washed up along the South African coastline in 2017 with gaping wounds on their side with their livers having been bitten out by two killer whales in the area.

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The killer whales bite a large slit in the side of the great whites after attacking as a pair and then suck out the fatty liver which is 600lb meat delicacy in a phenomenon that has only recently been discovered.

The two Orca’s responsible – known as Port and Starboard as their dorsal fins hang to the left on one and to the right on the other – spurned their natural prey like seals having developed a taste for shark.

The great whites population in False Bay have not returned to face their nemesis but it is hoped that they will in time return to their usual hunting ground.

Marian Nieuwoudt, a Cape Town environment official, said: ‘There have been no traces of bite marks from great whites on any of the whale carcasses the City had removed from False bay this year which usually indicates their feeding patterns.

‘To our knowledge the absence of great white’s from False bay has not been recorded before and we are at a loss at present as to why they have suddenly gone AWOL.’ 

A great white catches its prey

Another successful hunt by a great white

Scientists speculate this may be behind the disappearance of great whites from the waters of False Bay, a celebrated hunting ground off the coast of Cape Town

Between 2010 and 2016 shark spotters recorded an average of 205 great white sightings a year in 600 square mile section of the Atlantic Ocean

Between 2010 and 2016 shark spotters recorded an average of 205 great white sightings a year in 600 square mile section of the Atlantic Ocean

In 2018 they were only 50 and so far this year not a single one of the much-feared great white shark has been spotted

In 2018 they were only 50 and so far this year not a single one of the much-feared great white shark has been spotted

Pollution, climate change and over fishing of their natural prey have also been suggested as potential causes behind the mystery disappearance

Pollution, climate change and over fishing of their natural prey have also been suggested as potential causes behind the mystery disappearance

Great whites frequented the area between the months of June to October every year as part of their annual winter hunting season.

They were drawn to the region by the presence of the so-called Seal Island, a granite rock in the middle of False Bay which is home to a huge Cape Fur Seal colony.

The predators learned a new hunting technique over time to breach on the island, grab a seal and retreat back to the safety of the waters.  

This feeding ground of the apex predator has seen some of the biggest great whites ever recorded.

Some 350 to 525 great white’s are believed to roam the coast of South Africa after a study was completed in 2014, but the current population numbers is unknown. 

It is thought there could only be a few hundred of the sharks in the world.  

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The 70 mile stretch of coastline around False Bay is filled with the warm waters of the Aghulhas current which attract the great whites.

The City of Cape Town has now decided to move its official shark spotters who keep the beaches safe in False Bay to other know shark areas until the great whites return to the Cape shores. 

The desertion of the area comes after five great white sharks were washed up along the South African coastline in 2017 with gaping wounds on their side with their livers having been bitten out by two killer whales in the area

The desertion of the area comes after five great white sharks were washed up along the South African coastline in 2017 with gaping wounds on their side with their livers having been bitten out by two killer whales in the area

Local shark cage diving companies who attract eco-tourists and documentary film makers who come for sightings of the predators and to swim close to them significantly boost the Cape economy

Local shark cage diving companies who attract eco-tourists and documentary film makers who come for sightings of the predators and to swim close to them significantly boost the Cape economy

Some 350 to 525 great white's are believed to roam the coast of South Africa after a study was completed in 2014, but the current population numbers is unknown. It is thought there could only be a few hundred of the sharks in the world

Some 350 to 525 great white’s are believed to roam the coast of South Africa after a study was completed in 2014, but the current population numbers is unknown. It is thought there could only be a few hundred of the sharks in the world

The 70 mile stretch of coastline around False Bay is filled with the warm waters of the Aghulhas current which attract the great whites, but none have been seen so far this year

The 70 mile stretch of coastline around False Bay is filled with the warm waters of the Aghulhas current which attract the great whites, but none have been seen so far this year

It has been two years since the Shark Spotters Applied Research Programme has picked up a signal from any of the great white's that had been tagged by scientists and were resident in False Bay

It has been two years since the Shark Spotters Applied Research Programme has picked up a signal from any of the great white’s that had been tagged by scientists and were resident in False Bay

Local shark cage diving companies who attract eco-tourists and documentary film makers who come for sightings of the predators and to swim close to them significantly boost the Cape economy.

Marine biologist Alison Towner of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust said: ‘A study in California showed that great white sharks were being attacked by pods of killer whales and driven away from feeding grounds.

‘This is a complex issue which is something we are trying to better understand but we do know that killer whales have regional impact on great whites as seen in South Africa, California and Australia,

‘Although the presence of killer whales will obviously have an effect on great whites, there are many other factors that come into play, and my research on them is ongoing in Gansbaai where they have just returned after a two year absence’.

The killer whales bite a large slit in the side of the great whites after attacking as a pair and then suck out the fatty liver which is 600lb meat delicacy in a phenomenon that has only recently been discovered.

 The killer whales bite a large slit in the side of the great whites after attacking as a pair and then suck out the fatty liver which is 600lb meat delicacy in a phenomenon that has only recently been discovered.

The great whites population in False Bay have not returned to face their nemesis but it is hoped that they will in time return to their usual hunting ground

 The great whites population in False Bay have not returned to face their nemesis but it is hoped that they will in time return to their usual hunting ground

Great whites frequented the area between the months of June to October every year as part of their annual winter hunting season

Great whites frequented the area between the months of June to October every year as part of their annual winter hunting season

The City of Cape Town added: ‘Residents and visitors should remain vigilant and cautious when visiting beaches in False Bay as shark spotters regularly observe other large sharks inshore.

‘While these do not pose as significant a threat to water users as great white sharks, it is better to avoid being in close proximity to them, especially when there is natural prey is the area.

‘The great white’s may also return at any time so we urge all water users to behave responsibly and leave the water when they hear the sirens or are told to do so by shark spotters of lifeguards’.

South Africa’s Western Cape boasts some of the world’s best Great White Shark cage diving and thousands of adrenalin-hungry tourists flock there each year paying up to £150 a time to go down with them.

False Bay is the biggest bay in South Africa and Seal Island just 3 miles off shore with its deep water and 60,000 seals was one of the the best places to the predators breaching with seals in their jaws.

Tourists hoping to see the Great White’s from cages will now have to travel up the coast to Gansbaai until they return.

They were drawn to the region by the presence of the so-called Seal Island, a granite rock in the middle of False Bay which is home to a huge Cape Fur Seal colony

They were drawn to the region by the presence of the so-called Seal Island, a granite rock in the middle of False Bay which is home to a huge Cape Fur Seal colony

It is believed the complete lack of sightings of great white sharks in the area is the first time in recorded history. Experts said: 'We are at a loss at present as to why they have suddenly gone AWOL'

It is believed the complete lack of sightings of great white sharks in the area is the first time in recorded history. Experts said: ‘We are at a loss at present as to why they have suddenly gone AWOL’ 

The two Orca's responsible for the exodus – known as Port and Starboard (pictured) as their dorsal fins hang to the left on one and to the right on the other – spurned their natural prey like seals having developed a taste for shark

The two Orca’s responsible for the exodus – known as Port and Starboard (pictured) as their dorsal fins hang to the left on one and to the right on the other – spurned their natural prey like seals having developed a taste for shark



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