A savage video caught the prey, becoming the predator.
A retired nurse captured the moment when a large bull sea lion rips the throat off a blue shark in California‘s Monterey Bay.
The short clip shows the sea lion tossing the smaller shark out of the water and ripping a part of its jaw off before swallowing it.
‘Sharks are definitely on the menu,’ as one representative from a local sea mammal conservation nonprofit, the Marine Mammal Care Center, told DailyMail.com.
But he added: ‘I definitely would say it’s interesting to see a sea lion with a blue shark that’s was that big […] It’s always interesting to see a sea lion eat something bigger than bite-sized.’
California’s coastal sea lion population is more commonly seen eating small schooling fishes, like sardines, according to marine scientists, although violent combat between sea lions and sharks is not unusual.
The savage video, taken by a retired nurse turned marine photographer, captures the moment when a large bull sea lion rips the throat off this blue shark. California’s sea lion population is more commonly seen eating small schooling fishes, like sardines, marine scientists said
‘Sharks are definitely on the menu,’ as one representative from a local sea mammal conservation nonprofit, the Marine Mammal Care Center, told DailyMail.com
And typically, the blue shark’s most dangerous predator has been human poachers engaged in ‘finning,’ the wasteful trade that sees poachers harvesting shark fins and dumping sharks’ finless corpses back into the sea.
Blue sharks, sometimes called great blue sharks, are the most heavily fished on the planet, according to the nonprofit Shark Trust.
The species has been listed as not quite endangered but ‘near threatened,’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘Red List.’
‘There used to be a whole lot more blue sharks,’ said Dave Bader, chief operations and education officer for the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, California.
‘Blue sharks are a normal thing for these waters,’ Bader told DailyMail.com. ‘But they’re one of the species that’s been heavily depleted by ‘finning,’ shark fishing.’
According to marine biologist Dr. Chris Lowe, director of Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, sea lions are not an uncommon predator of sharks, although they are a much less existential threat than ‘finning’ practices.
‘People don’t think of marine mammals eating sharks,’ as Lowe told reporters during an equally shocking 2015 battle between a sea lion and a thresher shark, ‘but it’s actually kind of common.’
But sea lions are ‘opportunistic feeders,’ according to Bader at the Marine Mammal Care Center, and they usually go for smaller, easier prey.
According to Bader, large sea lions will drag a creature to the surface because it’s easier to swing and rip a bite off their prey in the open air
‘Here at the Marine Mammal Care Center, we feed them herring,’ Bader told DailyMail.com. ‘And, for the most part, sea lions here locally are going to be eating small ‘schooling’ fishes like sardines, anchovies, mackerel.’
‘But those big male sea lions are known to eat salmon; they’re known to eat stingray, and big halibut,’ he noted.
‘The behavior where they come to the surface, and you see him thrash that shark in the air — it’s because he can’t swallow them whole.’
According to Bader, large sea lions will drag a creature to the surface because it’s easier to swing and rip a bite off their prey in the open air.
While this large blue shark is a well-matched adversary against an adult sea lion, many other species of shark are more vulnerable prey.
‘We tend to think about sharks as things that are big and dangerous. You know, they’re the predator not the prey.’ Bader said.
‘But for more most shark species, they are the prey.’
Most sharks are less than three-feet long, according to Bader, and 80 percent are less than six-feet long.
‘So a fairly small percentage of sharks get big and an even smaller percentage of those are any danger to anybody,’ he said. ‘Just because it’s a shark doesn’t mean it’s an apex predator.’
In this deadly encounter, caught on video by marine photographer Loriannah Hespe this past October 20th, the most surprising aspect to a seasoned observer like Bader is that the blue shark did not swim away.
When DailyMail.com asked Bader what has been the ‘most surprising’ encounter he’s ever seen between a sea lion and a shark, the Marine Mammal Care Center’s COO said, ‘This is one of them, for sure.’
‘They can swim faster and dive deeper, potentially than that sea lion,’ Bader said. ‘So the fact that the sea lion caught it is what’s pretty interesting.’