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Dolphin Tales: Killer whales harvest shark livers

By Capt. Cathy Eagle - | Oct 14, 2020

Did you know that the killer whale is an oceanic dolphin? Our Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (which are in our local waters) can be up to 12 feet in length while the killer whale, or orca, can reach up to 25 feet in length. The orca have a voracious appetite for shark’s liver, particularly that of the great white shark. There are several accounts of great white shark carcasses washing ashore in South Africa with orca bites and the livers removed with almost surgical precision.

Orcas travel in groups whereas sharks are lone predators. When hunting for the great white shark, the orcas gather together in a circle using their strong tails to create underwater currents forcing the great whites to the surface. The whale then stuns its prey with a quick blow to the gut and finally, the killer whale releases a fatal blow with its tail. It seems the killer whales are attracted to the shark’s liver. The liver produces a steroid and hormone producing liquid that is attractive to the killer whales.

It’s doubtful that we’ll ever see a killer whale or a great white shark in our local waters, but a 30-foot whale shark was spotted just off of the coast of Boca Grande by some of our local fisher folk. I have pictures of locals swimming with the giant. Fortunately, the whale shark eats tiny plankton and fish eggs and is quite docile.

Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating in our local waters. As a professional charter captain she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit CaptainCathy.com or call 239 994-2572.