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Orcas are pretty incredible creatures. They’re one of the only animals that call great white sharks prey, but they’re pretty choosy about which parts of the great white they’ll eat. They like the liver, and they’ll do just about anything to get at it. And in the amazing footage you see above, the graphic process of obtaining that delicacy was caught on film. According to researchers, orcas enjoy the liver so much because the livers are packed full of oils, fats, and nutrients.
The video was shared by The Daily Beast and by lead White Shark Biologist for Marine Dynamics Alison Towner on Instagram. Two orcas are seen circling a great white, which is bleeding into the ocean, while a third orca goes for the liver.
“Here is some of the footage of the recent white shark hunt by orca,” said Towner. “One of the most incredible pieces of natural history ever captured on film. We are looking forward to sharing the science behind this and the rest of the interaction soon, and trust me there is more!”
The term “killer whale” is slowly being phased out in favor of the name “orca.” It’s because killer whale denotes, obviously, a killer whale. But the word orca comes from the scientific name Orcinus orca. Orcinus is a translation from Latin which means “belonging to Orcus,” and Orcus, if you’ve been keeping up with Roman mythology, was the “god of the underworld.”
To go a little further on the origins of the orca name, “’Orcinus’ roughly means ‘from hell,'” explains Whaletales.org. “’Orca’ on the other hand does not mean ‘demon.’ It translates to the much more mundane ‘large-bellied pot or jar.’ This was likely in reference to the body shape of the killer whale and some documents suggest that ancient romans eventually used the term ‘orca’ to refer to any whale or large fish. So loosely, Orcinus orca means ‘whale from hell’ — which, if a great white could talk, would probably be what they’d call them.
Learn more about sharks by taking Ocean Ramsey’s Guide to Sharks. Check out shark researcher Ocean Ramsey’s tips on what to do in the unlikely event of a shark attack here. If this is your first time visiting The Inertia, welcome! We’re excited to get to know you better. We recommend kicking things off here. We only get one first impression!