Orcas might have a taste for whale tongue, but the efficient hunters often leave a smorgasbord of blubber and meat behind after a meal. An abandoned minke whale carcass seen bobbing off the coast of California recently had passing blue sharks chomping at the bit for a taste of the leviathan leftovers. 

According to Dana Wharf Whale Watching captain Frank Brennan, who filmed the event near Catalina Island, around 20 of the sleek predators stopped by as the afternoon progressed. It's hard to say with certainty what killed the whale, but as it was already missing its protein-rich tongue when the team arrived on the scene, they suspect hungry orcas had at least visited the carcass. 

"I was surprised when I saw that many [blue sharks],” he told the OC Register. “In one frame, we counted 13 in one shot. It was almost orderly. Not like a feeding frenzy … they’d swim up, take a bite, another would come up, then chew on it, then swim away. It was almost like they were taking turns."

Blue sharks are among the most cosmopolitan shark species: individuals tagged in Southern California, for example, have later turned up off Mexico and Hawaii. They're highly migratory, but these animals are seen relatively frequently in the region. Spotting so many together, on the other hand, remains a rare treat.

Despite having also encountered ocean sunfish (Mola mola), a dolphin superpod, and nine grey whales during this particular charter, Brennan and the team consider themselves lucky to have witnessed the blue shark feeding behaviour. 

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Did you know that blue sharks sometimes patrol the deep sea? Learn more about these animals (and the striking colouration that gives them their name!) here, here, and here