Incredible footage (seen above) taken by shocked onlookers along the coast of New Zealand depicts a lone killer whale facing off against a group of sharks, presented by ITN News. The orca, which seen thrashing about in the shallows, is the likely aggressor.
As the battle ensues, one shark actually beaches itself in an attempt to escape the orca. As it struggles to stay upright among the sandy waves, a curious dog approaches and nearly gets bitten as the shark lunges to protect itself.
Researchers analyzing the footage said they had never seen a shark beach itself to flee danger before, but the behavior has been witnessed among other fish species. It certainly makes for a dramatic scene — and one that dog may not soon forget.
Though it's unusual to see a killer whale hunting alone, marine biologist Clinton Duffy suspects the orca was probably herding the sharks toward a line of other orcas waiting to snatch them up further offshore. It's shocking to see the event captured on film, but Duffy says that such attacks are not uncommon and that it depicts a classic orca hunting strategy.
Killer whales have been known to take on a great white shark before. In 1997, biologists studying the sharks that frequent California's Farallon Islands watched in amazement as a mother orca and her calf munched on a 10-foot great white. The calf was seen dragging the shark carcass through the water — the event may have been a training session for the young one.
And 10-foot great white sharks may only be half of what satiates an orca's appetite. The apex predators have also been known to attack and consume creatures as massive as humpback whales. It's a good thing they don't see humans as food; wild orca attacks on humans are virtually unheard of.