This Is How Adult Great Whites Assert Dominance When Juveniles Step Out of Line

by Owen James Burke

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Screenshot from Agnes Yip-Fa’s 2013 video footage taken off the Neptune Islands off South Australia.

I always imagined that the rugged scars on white sharks were the results of the no-holds-barred ambushes with which they have no choice but to mount on their prey–often formidable beasts in their own rights, with spines, claws, teeth and powerful jaws.

But then, as with many of earth’s sentient beings, there’s a pecking order within the species, one which is distinguished, if not inherently by age or size, by force.

“The very basic behaviour of ‘stay away from anyone bigger than me’ is just as advantageous to white sharks as it is to marching band members,” says predator-prey ecologist Michelle Jewell.

Indeed, and this is hardly the first observation of great whites nipping at one another, but it is further evidence toward the mounting theory that white sharks do exhibit individual behaviors to uphold their social hierarchy.

Below is a photo taken in March 2011 of “Chopper,” a great white wounded by another, presumably larger one.

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Photo: Nicola Stelluto/Dyer Island Conservation Trust/Marine Dynamics.

And here’s Chopper almost a year later, still swimming around with exposed flesh from last year’s wound. That said, researchers at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust say the fish is “good as new.”

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Photo: Oliver Jewel/Dyer Island Conservation Trust/Marine Dynamics.

I guess it’s all relative.

Read more at Earth Touch News. –OJB

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