For the first-time ever, video footage taken off the coast of South Africa has recorded a humpback whale being killed by a great white shark. The 32ft whale was in ill health when hunted by the 13ft shark. In contrast, humpback whales are known to attack sharks, it was a strange turn of events.
The whole event lasted about 50 minutes. The great white started by biting the whale’s tail, which is the most vulnerable area as there are major arteries and veins in the area. Then the shark dragged it underwater to drown it.
Marine Biologist for Blue Wilderness Research Unit and Research Coordinator Ryan Johnson, said they had been notified the whale was entangled in a net by a member of the public. They thought the whale was already dead, but when they arrived it was still alive, though weak.
“The shark was very strategic about it, there was no hesitation, it was as if she knew exactly how to go about it,” Johnson said to The Times.
Johnson did not realize he was recording an undocumented event at the time, but after going through the footage he realized it was first ever documentation. He looked for other footage similar yet none verified a humpback whale being killed by a shark.
“From everything I found, this was really the first verified report of a shark successfully killing a living whale,” Johnson told Newsweek.
As part of National Geographic’s Sharkfest, the footage will premier as part of a documentary called Shark vs. Whale on July 28, 2020. The program looks at migration patterns of humpback whales, great whites, and where they cross paths.