A diver swimming off the coast of California has captured rare footage of an orca biting into a whale shark and ripping out its liver.
The video was filmed in the Sea of Cortez off the Golden State by James Moskito. He encountered a pod of eight killer whales while underwater who were hunting whale sharks.
The remarkable footage shows a killer whale feeding from the stomach of a 30-foot long whale shark before removing its liver. The orca’s fellow cetaceans can be heard clicking with excitement nearby.
It appears the whale shark is already dead because as soon as the orca lets go the shark sinks into the abyss.
“[It] looks like they slurped in the liver and then the whale shark just fell and descended down, with no movement — I’m assuming it was dead,” says Moskito.
The diver witnessed another orca attack on a different whale shark shortly after the liver-eating episode. He saw “thrashing at the surface with a killer whale attached to it.”
While it is rare for this behavior to be captured on film, scientists and researchers are aware that orcas engage in this type of hunt and it is widespread around the Farallon Islands in northern California.
It is present too in South Africa where two killer whales have become specialized in eating the livers of great white sharks. So much so that the great whites have largely abandoned the area for fear of them.
Last year, PetaPixel reported on helicopter and drone footage of the two orcas off the coast of South Africa hunting a great white shark, capturing a bloody battle that ultimately ended in the great white’s demise.
“Shark livers are extremely fatty, so there’s a lot of calories in there,” Michael Weiss, research director at the Center for Whale Research, tells Insider.
Orcas are incredibly smart and will look to take the most calories from any situation. Researchers speculate that they use their sonar to detect the best part of their prey to eat.