Killer whale kills great white shark

Demitri Martin has observed that whale watching is often indistinguishable from watching people be disappointed. But not all the time. National Geographic has a short video about a 1997 whale watching excursion when the people got to watch a killer whale take down a great white shark. (Feel free to make heavy metal devil hands at your computer screen at any time while watching this video.)

The really cool thing? To pull off this kill, the whale had to learn a trick about shark anatomy and behavior. Treehugger's Jaymi Heimbuch explains:

According to National Geographic, "To prey upon the shark, the Orca has learned how to immobilize it by turning it on its back -- a state called 'tonic immobility.'" Sharks freeze when rolled onto their backs. And that's exactly the strategy the whale in this film seems to have taken, keeping the shark immobile until it suffocates, then and feeding on it.

If that's not worth a little air guitar in that whale's honor, I don't know what is.

Video Link


      1. Thank you! I was also blocked in Canada.

        But now – I have watched their video! I have stolen from them! Their children will be destitute and their loved ones will starve!


      2. ProxTube seems to send Firefox to the ProxTube Facebook page every time I restart the browser. Not classy.

          1. Upon installing the plugin it happened multiple times in row. I tried closing all open tabs in Firefox and then closing and restarting the application and it still happened.

            As a test, I have just reinstalled it. It didnt happen at all this time. The tool doesnt seem to work from France though.

    1. Those of you having problems viewing the video should take a look at
      It’s a really simple program that allows you to switch between US & UK presence so you can view region-locked content.
      Don’t thank me, thank Mr. Neil Gaiman who made me aware of this via Twitter! :)

      1. So many helpful people here today!

        I wonder if this is the kind of thing that could be shut down by SOPA. Are we engaging in ‘piracy’, here?

    2. “Innehållsleverantören har inte gjort det här videoklippet tillgängligt i ditt land.” It is Swedish that translates to “fuck you, internet has borders”.

          1. Look, I get that they don’t show a lot of respect for the environment, but I believe that beavers deserve a bit more respect than you’re showing them.

  1. The one time I went whale watching seemed like it was going to be disappointing. After 1/2 of the allotted time we’d only seen one pod of humpbacks. Then one of the humpbacks breached (and I got a nice shot of it: ) and then another of the whales came over to the boat to say hello! It was rubbing up against the boat and you could look right over the side and see it 6-7ft below you. Whale breath stinks, by the way.

  2. No air guitar for the whale or bagpipes for the shark. C’est la vie! The beat of life continues or sometimes you get the shark other times the shark gets you.

  3. I couldn’t watch, the constant cutting back and forth every five seconds.  I know this story format, five seconds of footage followed by ten seconds of someone expressing their ‘feelings’ about the story for 2 to 3 minutes is de rigueur for television, but it’s cancer and needs to stop.  How about show the footage, then talk.  or better show the footage and then use text to comment about  the footage.

      1. There’s a little bit of metal in everyone – especially those of us who have been abducted by aliens :O

  4. with one remaining arm, turn shark on back, while re-mounting what remains of your surfboard and staunching the bloodlosss.

    1.  Actually humans can do this tonic immobility trick quite easily on sharks in shallow water. I have seen video of pretty big lemon sharks being flipped.

      I got bumped by a shark a few years ago near San Luis Pass. Pretty sure it was a lemon. I think a bull shark would have bit me. Most shark attacks happen when visibility is poor. If the sharks can see us clearly, they don’t bite. When they can’t see clearly, they bump and sometimes nibble. Their nibbles are often fatal.

  5. “Feel free to make heavy metal devil hands at your computer screen…”

    Crap. I just checked Google and I’ve been signing “I love you” all of this time.

  6. The video was taken by my former manager at Oracle, Pat Kiddle!

    He didn’t know how amazing the event was, and gave the tape to researchers without a second thought.

  7. The story is interesting, but I don’t really understand the implied gloating. They are called *Killer* Whales for a reason. One beautiful but deadly predator kills another beautiful but deadly predator. Why the devil horns? Certainly we are above considering Great Whites “big meanies.”

    1. I am pretty sure that wasn’t the intent of the post. More along the lines of “one giant huge predator manages to do in another giant huge predator,” just kind of an awesome battle in concept. Neither side is vilified here.

  8. This sounds like an event that is mentioned in the book “The Devil’s Teeth”, a documentary about a journalist who managed to spend some time on/near the Farlon Islands for a few months.  As I recall it was a 13 foot male shark who was killed and the most interesting bit was that after he was killed all of the other  white sharks being tracked in the area promptly departed the vicinity and swam out into the open ocean months early.

  9. Between this and watching Frozen Planet, Killer Whales are never going to be called the adorable PC term Orcas again. They freak me out.

  10. Christ, what a blowhole.

    And no more heavy metal devil hands for me. I’m doing a heavy metal dorsal fin from now on.

  11. Having been blocked by National Geographic I did a quick search and came up with this video 

    I couldn’t believe the unremitting savagery with which the commentary attacks the English language. It makes me really glad to have David Attenborough narrating my natural history programmes instead of this folksy, pejorative clap trap. 

    1. Thanks for the link!  Flip a shark upside down and it goes to sleep.

      I’ll have to remember that, the next time I’m in shark-infested waters.

    2. Thank you for the link! I agree with you on the commentary. The amount of hate against the shark got quite ludicrous for a nature documentary. It made me appreciate BBC/Attenborough that much more for portraying even the most fearsome predators without ever taking away from each animal’s beauty and dignity. Then again, this is from 1997 and I know I’ve seen much higher quality from National Geographic.

      I guess the moral of this showdown is, yet again, that one shouldn’t mess with curvy, black and white cuteness larger than a penguin (also see: Pandas)…

    3. The video in this post does not have quite the, uh, poetic narration as yours, which is from Good Morning America, a trite morning “news” program(me).
      It sounded like it was written in the style of Beowulf.

      He left out
      “Shark shatterer, bringer of death,
      Flips his fluked back
      For herring from Wealhtheow’s hand.”

  12. Maybe it’s just me but… It seems that when a 6-ton killer whale with 30 tons of biting pressure has a 2-ton fish made out of cartilage in his mouth, he merely needs to bite down. The suggestion that the killer whale must have “a trick about shark anatomy and behavior” seems ridiculous. The dead shark happened to be upside down.

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