Plenty of information is available about the most fearsome land predators in our world today. However, in this article, we’d like to divert our attention towards the sea and focus on two of the most notorious predators found in the ocean today, the Orca and the Great White Shark.
Both are exceptional predators in their own right, but the question still exists: Which is the greater of the two?
While orcas do have the upper hand because of their sheer intelligence, unity, and of course, their size, many more facts would take us to answer the question of which apex predator is the undisputed ruler of the sea. If you truly want to know, then all you have to do is follow along as we take you through their key differences, including their physical appearance, behavior and habitat.
Contrary to their charming looks, orcas are one of the most deadly marine mammals in oceans today. They’re also known as the killer whale, despite their moniker, which is a type of dolphin. These enormous creatures can be found in oceans all across the world and usually enjoy grouping up and can form groups of up to 40.
This strength in numbers is also plain to see when they attack their prey, forming a ring around it so that it cannot escape and be hunted down easily. Their diet primarily consists of a variety of sea-borne prey, including sea lions, seals and sometimes even other sharks.
Orcas are also highly adaptable and can survive in various environments ranging from the cold waters of the arctic ocean to tropical seas. Like dolphins, orcas come up to the surface to get air and can survive a couple of minutes outside the water. People usually identify them by their distinctive black-and-white coloration.
Great White Shark
Just like the orcas, the Great White Shark is also an apex predator of the sea when it comes to marine animals. These majestic killer sharks are easily distinguishable due to their fully white undersides, torpedo-like streamlined body and pointed snout.
Unlike orcas, great white sharks prefer hunting and living alone and can smell their prey from a long distance away due to their incredibly heightened sense of smell.
Their diet primarily consists of all the other animals in the sea, including sea lions, seals, fish and smaller sharks.
Although these majestic creatures can exist in almost all types of marine environments, they prefer living in calm coastal waters. These species have also acquired an undeserved reputation for hunting humans. All the negative reputation has eventually caused them to become a vulnerable species due primarily to overfishing.
Orca Vs. Great White Shark – Key Differences
Both sea predators have many similar traits, yet there are a few key differences between them that you should be aware of in case you’re ever faced with having to identify them in the wild.
Considering both species can hunt pretty much any prey they want in any ocean, you might be inclined to believe they’d be close to the same size. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. To put it simply, orcas are much bigger than great white sharks. This statement can be conveyed with facts and figures to give you a better idea. An adult orca can grow up to 30 feet or 9.1 meters, while an adult great white shark can reach up to 20 feet or 6.1 meters at max.
As far as weight is concerned, orcas can weigh up to 11 tons or 10,000 kg, whereas an adult great white shark may weigh up to 5,000 pounds or 2,268 kg. White sharks typically grow up to be half the size of an adult orca, which is quite disparate considering how they both rule the sea as apex predators.
The human mind often associates speed with size. This would mean that the larger the creature, the slower it’ll be. Well, that’s not the case for these two significant marine mammals, as both are renowned for their speed underwater and use it to great effect when hunting their prey.
Orcas, in this regard, take the cake because, despite their heavier build, they are faster than great white sharks and can reach a maximum underwater speed of up to 34 miles per hour.
And while great white sharks are also speedy, their maximum speed underwater goes up to 25 miles per hour, which is relatively low compared to the orca. This gives orcas a slight advantage over their fellow predators when it comes to hunting and evading predators.
Orcas are notorious for being one of the most intelligent mammals in the world, and for a good reason as well. Orcas have been noticed to have subtle but complex social interactions with each other. Individuals who’ve studied them also report that each has complex social behaviors within their group, which sets them apart, along with a tendency to learn and adapt to new situations quickly.
On the other hand, great white sharks also exhibit intelligence when they hunt their prey but not the same level of social complexity or communication skills as orcas.
And that’s probably because they don’t hang around in groups and don’t particularly need extensive communication skills.
Moving on to our last key difference in the list, it’s another physical feature that makes orcas and great white sharks one of the greatest predators in the sea. Yes, we’re talking about their teeth. When talking about Orcas first, their teeth are renowned as huge interlocking ones that can tear their prey clean in half.
A great white shark is blessed with large, triangular, razor-sharp teeth designed for biting and cutting. When it comes to teeth, we’d say that great white sharks have the edge (no pun intended!) over orcas due to their increased sharpness and triangular structure.
However, orcas don’t particularly need extra sharp teeth, as they usually hunt in packs and help each other out when it comes to attacking their prey.
Who Would Win in a Fight – Orcas vs Great White Shark
Whenever the world’s media brings up the Orca and Great White Shark, the two animals are often compared and pitted against each other to understand which one is superior. Well, we’ve also wondered about this and decided to end the debate by letting you know exactly which marine mammal is superior.
The orca definitely has a size and weight advantage over the great white shark, suggesting that the orca would win in a fight between the two. And that’s precisely the case, not only because of its size and weight advantage but because orcas hunt in packs and have the numbers advantage over great white sharks who hunt alone.
On top of that, orcas are also much more intelligent than great white sharks and put their intelligence to good use when they need to trap other predators. In fact, allow us to rewind the clock a few months to May of 2022 when a wandering drone on the 16th of May picked up a strange visual of a white belly floating in the ocean off one of the coasts of South Africa.
Leaving that belly was a pack of orcas swimming further inland towards the mouth of the local river, searching for more great white sharks to hunt. We’ll leave a link to the video right here so that you can see how orcas actively hunt great white sharks and typically defeat them in battle, usually due to the numbers game they employ.
And that was all we had for you folks. We hope you enjoyed the article and now have conclusive evidence that orcas are superior to great white sharks in size, weight and hunting ability.
The greatest evidence of this is the video we’ve linked above. Other than that, we hope it’s also clear to you why both orcas and great white sharks are considered apex predators and why they are the deadliest predators in the sea.