Super Predator Revealed

Posted by: Max Hawthorne on March 22nd, 2016


I watched the documentary “Super Predator” recently. It’s the follow-up to last year’s “Hunt for the Super Predator.” I enjoyed both shows, but after having studied all the data, I find myself compelled to weigh in, because something’s not right.

Last year’s show (and I have no doubt they’ve set things up for a third episode for next year) ended with the premise that the creature that devoured a 3-meter great white shark (named “Shark Alpha” in the Bremer canyon off AU was simply a larger (i.e. 5-meter) great white. I thought this was rubbish. There was no definitive proof of the claim, and it was, IMHO, a fluff piece to quell the media storm and put people’s minds at ease.

In this year’s show, the filmmakers changed their story. Now they’ve presented the theory that a MUCH larger shark, i.e. a Carcharodon megalodon – one that inhabits the abyssal depths – was responsible for the attack on Shark Alpha. They backed this up with a photo of an 80-foot pygmy blue whale sporting a bite scar on its peduncle measuring a whopping 5 feet across. They also stated that the shark that unsuccessfully attacked the pygmy blue would have measured nearly 40 feet in length.

The facts dictate otherwise.

1- Per research, the pygmy blue measured 20-21 meters, i.e. a maximum of 69 feet.

2- Also, per the same site’s data, the bite on the whale’s tail measured a maximum of 1.2 meters across. That’s a smidgen less than 4 feet, not 5, indicating a shark around 32 feet long. A sub-adult Megalodon? Possibly. Or maybe just a really huge great white.

3- There is no indication that this pygmy blue whale was attacked in the Bremer canyon, so any insinuation that the shark that bit the whale is the same animal that devoured Shark Alpha is a stretch.

4- Per her satellite tag/tracker, Alpha’s body temperature, when attacked, was confirmed at 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Her body temperature, again per the tag, went from 46 to 78 degrees almost instantly after she was devoured.

5- White sharks have a body temperature that normally ranges from 10-14 degrees Fahrenheit above the surrounding water (the inside of the belly being the highest temp differential). Under extreme circumstances, the maximum differential has been listed at a difference of 25 degrees.

6- Based on body temperature alone, there is no way shark alpha was eaten by another great white. The temperature difference is too extreme. Moreover, if Megalodon is still alive, and has a body temperature anything like its relative, the great white, (a reasonable assumption), it would also fall within this range.

7- Megalodon was a shallow water predator. It makes no sense that it would loiter in the extreme deep where little food exists. Especially not when a banquet of whales waits at the surface.

8- The “Hunt for the Super Predator” special showed that the creature that ate Alpha remained at depths ranging from the surface to 300 feet immediately after feeding, and for the next 8 days, until the tracker/tag was excreted. This was ignored by the new show, assumedly as it would derail their “Abyssal Megalodon” theory. In fact, the “super predator’s” movements in the water column are, in actuality, similar to those of an Orca. It indicates an air breathing predator that does NOT live in the darkness of the abyss.

9- This fact is backed up by Alpha’s behavior, immediately prior to her being consumed. Once attacked, she dove to nearly 2,000 feet at high speed before she was caught and killed. This indicates an attacker that was both fast and capable of deep dives, as well as being able to accurately track fleeing prey in complete darkness (echolocation, anyone?).

10- Retreating/emergency diving to extreme depths when attacked is a documented tactic white sharks employ when one of their number has been killed by Orcas, indicating Shark Alpha may have tried to employ this same tactic in an attempt to flee what she recognized as a large, air-breathing carnivore.

11- Per the tracker/tag, the digestive process of the “super predator” took 8 days. A great white’s digestive tract takes 24-48 hours, from what I’ve read. Something else digested Alpha – something that dissolves its meal slowly – and based on my experience keeping large crocodilians and such, that would seem to indicate a reptile.

12- Lastly, adult leatherback sea turtles have been known to have core body temperatures 32 degrees Fahrenheit above the surrounding sea water. If the water temperature around shark alpha was 46 degrees and you add 32 to it, you get the EXACT 78 degree body temperature of the Super Predator. Of course, leatherbacks eat jellyfish, not 3-meter white sharks. But the interesting thing about them is that they ARE marine reptiles. This implies that the creature that ate Alpha may ALSO have been a marine reptile of some kind.

Summary: The evidence supports my hypothesis that “Shark Alpha” was eaten by a large, air-breathing animal – one that could navigate in total darkness, survive the pressures of the abyss, catch a fleeing great white swimming at 30+ mph and swallow it whole, had a body temperature 32 degrees higher than the surrounding water, habitually stayed near the surface for 8+ days after eating its meal, and took eight days to digest.

Conclusion: Alpha was consumed by a huge marine reptile. Discluding unknown species and focusing on the fossil record, candidates include either a giant mosasaur or pliosaur. Given the depths the predator descended to in pursuit of the shark, and that mosasaurs were shallow diving, cold-blooded reptiles like their modern relatives, monitor lizards, I’m betting on the latter.

Looks like KRONOS RISING may not be pure fiction after all…

Coming soon, Book two in the Kronos Rising series.


Max Hawthorne About Max Hawthorne
Max Hawthorne is the author of Kronos Rising, book one in a new marine terror series. He grew up in Philadelphia and graduated with a BA from Central High School and a BFA from the University of the Arts. He is a world record-holding angler whose writing has appeared in a multitude of outdoor magazines and periodicals. He is an avid sportsman and conservationist. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, and the collection of fossils and antiquities. He lives with his family in the Greater Northeast.

2 Responses to “Super Predator Revealed”

  1. Encino Man responds:

    This guy has jumped the shark

    A giant multitonne marine animal totally went completely unnoticed by the ecosystem and left absolutely nothing in the fossil record for ~65 million years. Because apparently the mythical Cenozoic mosasaurs were completely, absolutely, 1000%, totally immune to fossilization.

    Believing that megalodon was extant is dumb enough, but believing that a freaking Mesozoic animal is still extant is just…wow…how can someone be this…and many readers still believe that  freaking nonsense!?

    Also he seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that mosasaurs and pliosaurs probably had body temperatures much higher than a typical marine reptile like a turtle since mosasaurs and pliosaurs are endotherms. I don’t see how a thalassophonean pliosaur or a mosasaur could have a body temperature approximately equal to that of a chelonian like a sea turtle, but this guy seems convinced that this is the case. Which is ludicrous.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    Interesting theory. I’ve followed on this a bit: it’s really interesting that this happened and it opened up the door for all kinds of speculation about sea monsters, megaladon and the like.

    For my money, I think it’s one of those tantalizing things that we’ll never really know the answer to. Speculation about all of the different possibilities is always good fun though. I am a fan of Max’s idea that whatever was following the great white could have been using echolocation to track it.

    Of course this could be something like a large sperm whale, or if you want to go the cryptid route–how about a leviathan–prehistoric whale?

    I haven’t read enough on the data for this incident, but how do we know for sure that something didn’t just bit off the shark’s dorsal fin and swallowed it?

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