Researchers have come across a shocking activity taking place off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa. They have discovered seals going after and consuming mid-sized to large sharks.
According to the researchers, the discovery not only reveals a previously hidden part of one species’ diet, it could also have important implications for our understanding of the food web in the open ocean.
The discovery was made by Chris Fallows, an expert on the Great White Shark and their hunting habits. He came across Cape fur seals hunting, killing and eating the internal organs of blue sharks. He later came across the same activity in 2012 but this time he had an underwater camera to capture the entire act.
The event occurred on December 2012, when Fallows was leading a shark dive some 20 nautical miles southwest from Cape Point, which is the peninsula near Cape Town, South Africa. The group was looking at 10 blue sharks when a young male Cape fur seal suddenly appeared out of nowhere and attacked the predator group.
According to Fallows, the young seal ripped apart five of the blue sharks, some measuring up to 4.5 feet long, the same size as the seal. The seal ravenously snatched one shark and tore its abdomen wide open to feed upon the dark viscera. Fallows stayed and witnessed the scene, capturing photos of the seal as it killed and ate five sharks out of 10.
Great white sharks usually feed on Cape fur seals but Cape fur seals aren’t known to eat sharks. The seals’ diet consists of small fish, squid and crabs. They are known to eat baby sharks or dead sharks, but are not known to attack adult sharks. The researchers believe that the seals might attack sharks to lessen competition or food in the ocean. The seals also gain from consuming the energy-rich organs of sharks.