Shark Surprise: Channel Islands Tourists See Great White Sharks Devouring Whale

Visitors to the national park witness Great White sharks feeding on a whale carcass.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013  |  Updated 3:03 PM CDT
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Several sharks -- both Great Whites and Blue -- were spotted over the weekend eating a Minke Whale carcass floating in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Andrea Mills/Island Packers

Several sharks -- both Great Whites and Blue -- were spotted over the weekend eating a Minke Whale carcass floating in the Santa Barbara Channel.

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Nature shuts down for no shutdown.

As the country headed toward the government shutdown that has now shuttered national parks, tourists visiting one California nature reserve witnessed an unusual and spectacular sight.

Several sharks -- both Great Whites and Blue -- were spotted over the weekend eating a Minke Whale carcass floating in the Santa Barbara Channel between Ventura and the Channel Islands National Park.

Video taken from an Island Packers boat caught the powerful scene on Sunday, Sept. 29.

"This morning's passengers were treated to a rare encounter as three Great Whites and about a dozen Blue Sharks feasted on a dead Minke Whale carcass floating in the SB channel," reads the company's Facebook page.

Island Packers is the longtime transportation company between the mainland and the five Channel Islands that comprise the national park (there are eight Channel Islands in all).

An Island Packers return run on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 30 also spied a Great White and one or possibly two Blue Sharks circling the carcass. The reason for the Minke's demise is not known.

It's been a major week for nature's rarities in the island chain, which is beloved as a destination for hiking, camping, birding, and snorkeling; Blue-Footed Boobies have been seen in "unprecedented numbers" around the islands, including on Anacapa.

But getting to Anacapa is another matter. Channel Islands National Park is closed as of Tuesday, Oct. 1, along with all of our nation's national parks. Island Packers will continue to make day trips to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island as well as non-landing voyages.

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