You wouldn’t expect a shark, of all creatures, to get a taste of its own medicine.
It’s hard to tell from this bird’s eye view, but in anAlien vs. Predator-type scenario, it looks like a pod offalse killer whaleshas hunted down a small shark off the coast of Cronulla, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.
Bruno Kataoka filmed the encounter with a drone: Four whales tracking down what looks to be a juvenile shark as it attempts to flee.Moments later, the game is up. One of the whales grabs onto its prey with its jaws, dragging it down to the deep depths of the ocean.
Kataoka couldn’t believe his luck at witnessing such an awe-inspiring, natural event.“It was exciting, it was a really exciting moment,”he told 7 News.“National Geographic guys [would be] waiting months to get such a thing, and we just happened to be there at the right moment, at the right time.”
The bit of footage is thrilling, with such an attack being a particularly rare sight.“Oh it’s amazing, that kind of footage is just so rare to catch,”marine biologist Georgina Wood told the television station.
“We generally see a lot of action from humpbackshere in Sydney, especially during these winter months, and they can get up to around 14 to 15 metres (45 to 49 feet) long,” she said.
Olaf Meynecke, a marine scientist from Griffith University, told Mashable Australiavia email the shark at least appears to be the real deal.
“From what I have seen the shark did look like a juvenile or subadult blacktip. It would fit the surface activity, size and shape. I have watched the video a couple of times and it certainly isn’t a large animal. There is one frame when a black fin is visible and when the false killer whale brings the shark to the surface, the shape fits [the] blacktip reef shark,” he said.
While the footage is remarkable,Meynecke worries that it may inspire others to fly drones over marine mammals, which is illegal within a certain distance.
“Juveniles often spend time on the surface in coastal waters. That the false killer whales are hunting them is not surprising at all, but of course having this footage is certainly unique,” he said.
“Sadly it encourages people to fly over marine mammals in the hope of getting such footage. It is actually illegal to approach marine mammals with a drone closer than 300 metres (328 yards) from the air without a permit in Australian waters.”
The false killer whales in the footage were much smaller than humpbacks, Wood explained, appearing to measure around three to five metres (9 to 16 feet) long.
False killer whales are usually found indeep tropical and temperate waters, according the Department of Environment, with adult males growing up to six metres (19 feet) long, while females grow up to five metres (16 feet) long.
It’s all cold comfort for this little shark, unfortunately.
UPDATED Thursday, May 12 9:52 a.m.: Comments from OlafMeynecke, a marine scientist from Griffith University were added to the story.
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