In a rare sequence of events, a cinematographer photographed a group sharks killing a whale calf.
Recently a group of dusky sharks killing a whale calf was recorded off the coast of South Africa in a marine protected area.
Cinemotographer Morne Hardenberg witnessed the attack and captured still images of both the humpback calf and the dusky sharks.
This is an unusual event since sharks tend to dine on smaller prey, such as the sardines that make a massive run through those waters this time of year. Occasionally sharks will attack larger marine animals such as dolphins. Whales however, especially humpbacks, tend to have predator-free lives due to their size. In most cases, they are far too large for any type of attack.
In any case, the sharks had their work cut out for them when attacking this much larger humpback calf.
Hardenberg said a group of 10 to 20 sharks pursued the whale for several hours, constantly striking it until the whale finally disappeared and sunk from exhaustion. It’s unclear whether or not the sharks actually ate the whale after it sunk to the bottom.
Sharks to have the ability to hunt cooperatively but it is unsure of whether this was a planned attack, or a spur-of-the-moment incident.
Regardless, marine specialists in the area predict more events like this will occur in the future as the population of humpbacks continues to increase.
A Lonely Target
Why did the sharks choose to attack this particular calf? Like many predators on land and in the sea, predators will cull easy targets first. Odds are this calf was either sick or somehow otherwise impaired. Also, the pictures of the attack do not show a mother of any kind showing up to protect the calf. This suggests the calf had gotten lost and separated from its mother.
Although alone and possibly injured or sick, this calf still required a lot of sharks and a lot of energy to bring down.
Whatever their reasons for attacking the whale, don’t be surprised to see more attacks like this in the future.