Think you understand the ocean’s food chain? This photo of a sea lion attacking a small thresher shark might throw you for a loop.
While it’s actually quite common for sea lions to attack small sharks, most of us aren’t used to thinking of sharks as prey.
“It was absolutely insane,” Slater Moore, a photographer
and member of the boat’s crew, told The Huffington Post. “Predator becoming prey, nature’s finest!”
Moore snapped photos and flew his drone over the water to film the pinnipeds’ bloody feast.
“Everyone on the boat was completely shocked,” he said of witnessing the attacks.
“It’s certainly a turning of the tables,” said Chris Lowe, the director of the Shark Lab
at California State University, Long Beach. “People don’t think of marine mammals eating sharks, but it’s actually kind of common.”
Sea lions are opportunistic feeders
, according to the Marine Mammal Center, which means they go for easy meals. That includes squid, herring and, yes, small sharks.
In this case, Lowe explained, these young thresher sharks were easy targets for the sea lions because they’re fairly inexperienced with predators.