A pod of killer whales have stunned shark cage divers after they surrounded a great white shark, slammed it into submission, and killed it off the coast of South Australia.
The group of tourists were near Port Lincoln on Monday when the family of orca whales herded the shark and began launching themselves out of the water, slamming down on it.
Adventure Bay Charters operator Matt Waller said the pack of six whales – including two calves – lured the shark to the surface before trapping and killing it.
He said he had never seen anything like it in his seven years of running the business, calling it “the title fight of all title fights”.
“For it to happen 20 metres from the boat in such a confronting, full-on manner was certainly something that will never be seen again in our lifetime,” Mr Waller told The New Daily.
The whales worked together in a pack, with some herding the shark from below while another launched itself on top of it.
He said the boat’s underwater viewing area echoed with the whale’s whistles and the situation became more frenzied as time went on.
“The water was almost vibrating with the intensity of what was going on until the final blow and the whale came down with an incredible body slam on the great white shark.”
Onlookers were stunned at the very impressive sight before them.
“Some were using expletives while others were just standing there in silence and in awe of the raw power of what they were seeing.
“Everyone was saying things like ‘what did I just see?’ It was truly thrilling.
“It’s a really raw thing to be exposed to.”
Marine biologist Gina Dickinson also witnessed the attack and told the ABC the orcas were teaching the calves in the group how to round up their prey.
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Orca whales are actually a member of the dolphin family and weigh up to six tonnes.
Like sharks, they are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain, and feed mostly on squid, sea birds, fish, sea turtles and seals.
Mr Waller described them as intelligent and very powerful, especially when in a group.
“Orca whales are a very organised animal. They are quite calculated, specific and cunning – not necessarily something I would want to go swimming with,” he said.
Mr Waller said the shark’s grisly fate was to become lunch for the whales.
“After the final kill everything went quiet and the whales dropped down and an oil slick appeared and started to spread out,” he said.
“Next thing you saw was birds coming in to pick up the spoils. Killer whales don’t eat the whole shark, just the liver which is high in oil.”
South Australian Museum whale expert Catherine Kemper said she had never heard of orca whales attacking sharks in South Australia, but would bring it up with colleagues.