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Found: Three Dead Great White Sharks, Missing Their Livers

One was also missing its heart.

A great white shark on the western cape of South Africa.
A great white shark on the western cape of South Africa. Bernard Dupont/CC BY-SA 2.0

On the western cape of South Africa, about two and half hours south of Cape Town, shark experts have found three dead sharks who washed up on the beach in quick succession with unusual injuries. Each of the sharks was sliced through. The first and third were missing their livers; the second was missing its liver and its heart.

These were great white sharks—predators with few enemies. After autopsying the sharks’ corpses, the experts believe that they were likely killed by orcas.

Sharks have large, fatty livers, which are full of energy and nutrients and which help keep them afloat underwater. Marine mammals are known to prey on smaller sharks, as Live Science explains: sea lions, for instance, will often eviscerate smaller leopard sharks and gobble up their rich inner organs. It’s unusual for an orca to prey on a great white shark in this way, but it’s not an entirely out of the ordinary.

The dexterity these enormous animals are capable of is mind blowing, almost surgical precision as they remove the squalene rich liver of the white sharks and dump their carcass,” writes the SharkWatch SA blog.