Great White Makes Quick Work of Elephant Seal in Graphic Footage

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 20, 2023
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Great white sharks are the apex predators of the oceans and are magnificent creatures to observe close-ups – if you dare! The 15-foot shark in this striking footage presents us with a masterclass on how to polish off your prey in a frenzy of feasting. It was taken around 10 miles off the Californian coast at San Clemente and has been cleverly edited with the theme tunes from the iconic Jaws movies to add to the tension.

Watch This Great White Dine on an Elephant Seal

We see this huge predator come into view close to the boat and we get a clear view of this magnificent animal in the crystal clear waters. On show are its five-gill slits and three main fins.

The onlookers are clearly in awe of its dorsal fin which is the classic sign that a shark is approaching. This is located on the shark’s back and when a shark is near the surface it is visible out of the water.

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A shark’s dorsal fin is not actually there to scare humans or look good in movies! It stabilizes the shark’s body and stops it from rolling onto its side. This keeps the great white upright in the water. It is also suspected that the dorsal fin creates an area of low water pressure which makes the shark’s movement through the water more efficient so that they use up less energy. The shark in this video certainly appears to glide effortlessly through the water.

This great white has used its large conical snout and excellent sense of smell to detect the body of a dead elephant seal – possibly from miles away! Now we get to the gory part of the video. The shark circles the large, dead elephant seal and without warning a feeding frenzy commences. The water around the seal turns crimson from the blood and is churned up by the shark’s movements. The carcass is ripped apart as the shark swings it from side to side. Even though sharks often swallow their prey whole, this one seems to want to rip the seal into smaller pieces before it is consumed. The very large elephant seal would be too large for the shark to swallow in one gulp.

We also seem to be witnessing a game as the predator lets go of the seal and circles it before heading back toward it to rip off more chunks and release yet more blood into the sea. Right at the end of the video, we are treated to a superb shot of the shark opening its mouth wide to try to finish off the meal. No one can deny the power and ferocity of these magnificent monsters of the sea after watching this footage.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alessandro De Maddalena/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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