Meanwhile, off the Californian coast, sea lions are feasting on thresher sharks.

Sealion Vs Thresher1 2015 10 26
Image: Ryan Lawler, Newport Coastal Adventure/Facebook
Sealion Vs Thresher2 2015 10 26
Image: Ryan Lawler, Newport Coastal Adventure/Facebook
Seallion Vs Thresher3 2015 10 26
Image: Ryan Lawler, Newport Coastal Adventure/Facebook

The clash was caught on camera in the waters off Laguna Beach, and the photos were posted to Facebook by the team at Newport Coastal Adventure (NCA) yesterday.

You may be used to pinniped-shark altercations playing out a little differently (perhaps something like this), but it's actually not that unusual for sea lions and their kin to grab a sharky meal.  

Just last year, a whale-watching group filmed a hungry sea lion thrashing another thresher off Newport Beach, and in that same month, wildlife photographer Slater Moore captured a similar showdown in the area:

Aside from the occasional thresher, leopard sharks are also on the menu – especially in California. Like their long-tailed cousins, leopard sharks have relatively small teeth, which are perfect for snacking on invertebrates and small fish, but no match for the jaws of a 770-pound (350kg) sea lion. 

“It’s pretty common [here]," explains shark researcher Dr Chris Lowe in a piece over at Hakai Magazine. "California sea lions will kill five-foot-long [1.5-metre] leopard sharks. Over the course of one summer I watched one bull sea lion basically knock an entire aggregation of leopard sharks down to nothing.” 

The NCA team even spotted some hungry sea lions eating a critically endangered angel shark last month. 

These interactions just go to show that despite their fearsome reputations, sharks are not always at the top of the food chain. It's an eat-or-be-eaten world – and all we can say is bon appetit!

__ 

Top header image: Claire Timm, Flickr