first_img Since the premiere of Jaws in movie theaters, the great white shark has been one of the most feared animals on the planet. However, the great white shark might not be the top ocean predator. A new study suggests that these creatures are fearful of killer whales, which make the average great white shark look like a small snack.Scientists who studied the behavior of great white sharks and killer whales recently published their findings in Nature, and they discovered that great white sharks moved away from killer whales, also known as orcas, whenever they were swimming by the Farallon Islands located off the coast of San Francisco, USA Today reported. Not only did great white sharks flee from these colossal creatures, but they also cleared the area until the next season.“When confronted by orcas, [great] white sharks will immediately vacate their preferred hunting ground and will not return for up to a year, even though the orcas are only passing through,” Salvador Jorgensen, senior research scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium and lead author of the study, said in a Monterey Bay Aquarium press release. FINTASTIC SCIENCE ALERT White sharks. Orcas. These legendary ocean predators need no introduction. But what happens when they meet each other? Our new study details what happens when two top predators cross paths off the California coast: https://t.co/v0vcIIxrtG pic.twitter.com/cuXzRYvtFQ— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) April 16, 2019According to the scientists, each predator acted differently when they were in the same vicinity: Whenever the orcas showed up to feed on elephant seals, great white sharks started swimming offshore or gathering together at other seal colonies along the coastline. Scot Anderson, a Monterey Bay Aquarium scientist, said some of the great white sharks that populate the area are more than 18-feet-long in length. Great white sharks can grow up to 20-feet-long and weigh more than 4,000 pounds, The Mercury News noted.An orca swimming in Monterey Bay, California. (Photo Credit: Jim Capwell/Monterey Bay Aquarium)To study great white sharks and orcas, the scientists compared data from electronic tracking tags that they placed on the great white sharks and some field observations of orca sightings. Scientists said the predators don’t often run into each other at the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, since orcas visit the area once in a while and great white sharks typically come to the area for more than a month during the fall season.The weird interactions between the great white sharks and orcas also benefited elephant seals, according to the study. The scientists analyzed 27 years of shark, orca, and seal surveys in the area and 165 great white sharks tagged between 2006 and 2013, and they found that elephant seals suffered four to seven times fewer attacks whenever the great white sharks fled.White sharks flee their foraging grounds when orcas pass by, often not returning for an entire year. Though brief, effects cascade through the food web. https://t.co/4SKBqbrQyp #newstudy #science #sharks #whales #research @MontereyAq @HopkinsMarine @Thunnus pic.twitter.com/eyZjA3ubQX— Dr. Kyle Van Houtan (@kylevanhoutan) April 16, 2019Even though the study didn’t discover whether orcas preyed on great white sharks or bullied them during feeding time, Jorgensen said the research demonstrates how interactions between the ocean’s top predators might impact marine food chains.“We don’t typically think about how fear and risk aversion might play a role in shaping where large predators hunt and how that influences ocean ecosystems,” Jorgensen added. “It turns out these risk effects are very strong even for large predators like [great] white sharks — strong enough to redirect their hunting activity to less preferred, but safer areas.”More on Geek.com:Scientists Attach Cameras to White Sharks to Watch How They Hunt Their PreyFisherman Discovers Severed Shark Head Bitten Off by Even Larger CreatureDecoded White Shark Genome Could Help Cure Cancer Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferWatch: Deep-Sea Octopus ‘Billows Like a Circus Tent’ Stay on targetlast_img