Washington - Jaws is afraid of Free Willy.
A new study published in Nature this week demonstrated that when pods of orcas entered an area around South Farallon Island off the coast of San Francisco, the great white sharks in the area cleared out - and didn't return for months.
No ocean predator is more fearsome in the public imagination than the great white shark, but even they appear to steer clear of orcas, highly intelligent pack hunters that have been observed on rare occasions to attack great whites - and eat their livers.
"On one occasion, we had 17 sharks that we were tracking simultaneously at the island when a group of orcas showed up," said Salvador Jorgensen of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who led the study that involved Stanford University and Point Blue Conservation Science.
"We were able to see from the data all the sharks leaving the side of the island the orcas had arrived on," he said, "and within a few hours had vacated the island completely."