June 24, 2024

See Many Sharks Feasting on Dead Whale Carcasses : ScienceAlert

Tiger sharks are usually solitary creatures, but nothing brings the scavengers together like the smell of dead whales.

These large buffets of blubber can attract dozens of sharks all at once, but such feasts are rarely caught on camera.

In late June, a drone flew off the coast of Queensland, Australia, exceptional footage of about 50 tiger sharks tearing into the carcass of a dead humpback whale.

The rare sighting is important for shark research and also serves as a warning to local swimmers.

“Where there are dead whales, there are probably sharks nearby and this video clearly shows why this is the case,” warnings Senior Sergeant Daniel Clifton from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES).

“The death of one whale, although sad, creates a source of life for many other scavenging animals including fish, sharks, and other marine life. We are fortunate here at Great Sand Marine Park that we can experience these natural processes first hand.”

frameborder=”0″ allow=” accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-writing; encrypted media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web sharing” allowfullscreen>

To ensure that the natural feeding event could continue to be easily observed offshore, officials anchored the remains of the humpback to a safe location in Hervey Bay.

From directly above, the drone footage shows the shadows of the sharks circling the whale carcass. From time to time, a lone shark can be seen swooping in and grabbing the whale, thrashing its body back and forth as it tries to grab it.

At one point in the video you can see a yellow-tinged cloud drifting away from under the whale as the sharks swarm attacking it from below; a likely sign of gas and stomach juices entering the water.

Yellow colored juices flowing from the belly of the whale carcass. (Queensland Department of Environment and Science)

Scientists are only studying whale scavenging events like this one for the last 30 years or soand while tiger sharks (Cuvier Galeocerdo) are regular visitors, it is not uncommon for others to join their species, such as great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) or bull sharks (Leucas Carcharhinus).

Off the coast of Australia, there are actually researchers recorded a few cases where great whites and tiger sharks fed whale carcasses in apparent peace.

Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) sometimes you can even join the fray.

frameborder=”0″ allow=” accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-writing; encrypted media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web sharing” allowfullscreen>

Sharks may have been some of the first creatures to feast on whales, but their remains keep deep ocean ecosystems busy for decades.

When a whale dies naturally, the blubber and gas in its body keep it afloat for a while. As scavengers begin to pick at the remains, however, the skeleton begins to sink.

This is known as ‘whale fall’, and it provides essential nutrients from above to creatures of the ocean floor. Eels, worms, crabs and octopuses have been recorded feasting on whale skeletons at great depths. They even chow down on the bones.

With so many hungry mouths to feed, no part of a dead whale goes to waste.

Even in death, these noble creatures bring renewed life to the ocean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *