Rare photos show an unusual incident of food chain reversal in which a hungry Cape fur seal devours five blue sharks, turning the tables on its natural predators. The rare event was photographed off the coast of Cape Point by a group of astonished divers.
The photos (see below) show the hungry Cape fur seal attacking and feeding on parts of five blue sharks, grabbing them in its jaws and ripping them apart. The photographer noted that the seal ate only the stomach and liver of its prey.
The photos are astonishing because sharks being at the top of the marine food chain, usually prey on seals and not seals on sharks.
According to The Huffington Post, Chris and Monique Fallows, who operate a shark diving company witnessed and photographed the unusual incident. Chris was diving with a group off the coast of Cape Point, South Africa. They looked for and soon found a group of blue sharks all around three to four feet long. Fallows said that suddenly, a large Cape fur seal appeared, attacked and killed a first shark , and then a second. He said the seal ate only the stomach and liver of the two sharks before moving on to the third and fourth sharks. He added: "It was terrible to watch."
About an hour later, another blue shark strayed into view and the seal, once again, proceeded to catch and kill it. Fallows said: "This was too much for us, we moved about three miles away. We certainly did not want to attract any more sharks to this seal."
According to the Daily Mail, Fallows guessed that the seal ate only the stomach because it contained fish or squid that seals prefer for their dinner. He guessed that the seal ate the liver because it was a good source of energy. He concluded: "I guess it just ate the parts that gave it the most use."
MSN Now reports Chris said: "In more than 2,000 expeditions working with sharks over the last 21 years, this is the only time I have ever seen a seal kill several sharks. I can find no record of such an event happening elsewhere."
Chris did not miss the opportunity to snap pictures of the rare scene (see photos below).
Cape fur seal devour blue sharks
The Daily Mail reports that Callan Duck, a senior research scientist at the University of St Andrews' Sea Mammal Research Unit, explained: "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. Seal normally eat fish, and the usual diet for a Cape fur seal would be one of two species of hake. 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."
Cape fur seal attacks and eats blue sharks
The marine biologist added that the sharks are likely to have been males. Blue shark males are smaller than the females.
The YouTube video below shows a separate recorded incident of a seal killing and eating a leopard shark.