Astonishing Video Shows Bull Sea Lion Devouring a Blue Shark Off the Coast of California

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An astonishing video taken in California shows the moment a bull sea lion eats a blue shark alive. In a twist on the usual formula, the bloody clip finds the sea lion handily overtaking the finned predator.

The footage, initially posted by @natureismetal on Instagram, was taken last month from a touring boat off the coast of Monterey Bay. A retired nurse and wildlife photographer happened to turn her camera on just in time to catch the startling encounter. It begins with the sea lion thrashing the shark back and forth before ripping a chunk of flesh from its face. The sea lion holds the gory mass of flesh in between its jaws as it disappears back under the water. Before long, the shark begins to thrash once again, but soon the water is still.

Warning, the footage is graphic.

“While fish and squid are the usual staples in this aquatic lion's diet, these marine mammals are known for their adaptability and opportunism,” Nature Is Metal wrote in the post’s caption. “When food sources become scarce, sea lions might diversify their diet, leading them to unconventional prey choices.”

A sea lion taking a bite out of a shark may seem like a peculiar sight, but experts say it’s actually fairly common behavior. “We tend to think about sharks as things that are big and dangerous. You know, they're the predator, not the prey,” Dave Bader, chief operations and education officer for California’s Marine Mammal Care Center, told The Daily Mail. “But for most shark species, they are the prey.”

Blue sharks are “the most heavily fished shark on the planet,” according to Shark Trust. They’re often the victims of “finning,” an act which sees hunters murder the species just to relieve them of their coveted fins.