Great white sharks are some of the most athletic hunters, and fur seals are a favorite on their menu. Great whites employ different techniques to surprise their prey, giving it little chance of escaping its ferocious jaws.
This marine predator is infamous for its fast hunting speed that sometimes causes them to jump out of the ocean with its prey clamped tightly between its breathtaking rows of sharp teeth.
This is the scene a man in the video hoped to capture as he watched a great white shark pursue a rookery of seals at South Africa’s Robberg Nature Reserve.
The 15-second video shows a shark emerging from the deaths of the ocean, hoping to catch the seals swimming along the shore by surprise. Unfortunately for the shark, the seals spot its silhouette and quickly escape to the shores. The shark makes a short pursuit but gives up and turns around when the water becomes too shallow.
The seals are lucky this time around. Indeed, as ferocious as great white sharks are, not all their hunting expeditions are successful. Sharks typically score successful kills eight out of every ten times they launch an attack.
Great Whites’ Hunting Strategy
The high hunting success rate can be attributed to the shark’s strategy of stalking its prey before launching a surprise attack from below. Typically, the sharks dive down and remain at an undetectable depth, so their prey doesn’t detect their vertical approach.
Great whites combine stealth and ambush in their hunting arsenal for successful kills.
Another common strategy is hunting solo while targeting juvenile fur seals. They also prefer to hunt at dusk or dawn when visibility is low to increase their chances of surprising the seals.
The light in the video shows it may have been taken during the day, which explains the failed hunt. The hunting scene is also near the beach, which denied the shark an opportunity to stalk the seals from an undetectable distance vertically below. Consequently, the seals see the shadow and swim for their lives.
Great Whites Have Highly Developed Senses
The whites’ highly refined six senses also significantly enable them to score a successful hunt. These senses include:
- Touch. Great white sharks have touch receptors in every part of the skin around their bodies.
- Sight. Sharks’ sight allows them to see objects 30 yards away in clean water.
- Hearing is the most acute sense great whites have, enabling them to detect prey over the greatest distance. They hear sounds over a range of frequencies between 20 and 300 Hz.
- Taste. A great white’s tongue, pharynx, and mouth lining have taste receptors that help them know what to eat or reject.
- Smell. The whites have a remarkable sense of smell whose accuracy depends on the source’s magnitude, dispersal and distance away. They are known to smell blood from hundreds of meters away.
- Electromagnetism. Sharks can detect weak electromagnetic fields from other sharks and prey. They typically use this sense before biting their meal since the position of their eyes doesn’t allow them to see what’s in front of their open mouths.
Sharks use these senses simultaneously when hunting.
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