These extraordinary pictures show a South African seal devouring a blue shark – one of five that it attacked and ate for dinner. The rare event took place off the coast of Cape Point and was witnessed and photographed by a group of shocked divers.
The seal ate only the stomach and liver of its prey before moving on to its next victim. He had been taking a group on an expedition when they found the sharks, which were all around three or four feet long (1.1 to 1.4 metres).
‘Suddenly a large Cape fur seal arrived and proceeded to catch and kill its first, then second shark,’ he said. It ate a further two in quick succession, before another shark drew its attention an hour later and it pounced once more.
‘This was too much for us,’ said Mr Fallows. ‘We moved about three miles away. We certainly did not want to attract any more sharks to this seal.’ The photographer said it was the second time he has seen a seal attacking and killing a blue shark, but he has never heard anyone else describe the event.
He suspects the seal only ate the stomach because it would have contained fish or squid, which form seal’s preferred diet, and the liver would have been a good source of energy. The pictures come on the same day as images of a fur seal chewing on a Maori octopus, known locally as ‘The Kraken’, off the coast of Australia. Photographer Phil Davison captured the rare sighting in Rye pier on the Mornington Peninsula, while out with a group of open-water scuba divers.
Callan Duck, a senior research scientist at the University of St Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit, said: ‘It’s usually the other way around. There is a lot of footage of great whites eating seals, particularly pups who stray into their paths. One of these species has great commercial value so the seal is in competition with fishermen when it comes to catching them.
Mr Duck added: ‘It may be that there are not many photos of this happening, but that doesn’t mean sharks cannot be part of a seal’s normal diet. ‘Cape fur seal can weigh up to 700lbs (300 kilos). It’s a question of size. If you are smaller than me, I will eat you.’ The sharks are likely to have been males, which are smaller than the females at around 6ft long and just 60 to 120lbs. Mr Fallows added: ‘If karma does indeed exist, the seal had better watch out if it returns during the great whites’ winter hunting season.’