What is the true size of Colossal Squid?


No doubt you have seen the Amazing Ocean Facts circulating around the web. It seems to be drawing renewed interest even though it cam out last year. Overall, I love the concept.  Humor, cartoons, ocean creatures, and some science. Yes more please!  However, I have to shot at National Geographic all because I take size seriously.

In the above cartoon the Colossal Squid is stated to be twice the length of school bus.  The average length of your standard school bus is around 45 feet long.  So according to this comic a Colossal Squid is 90 feet long. I mentioned in my other post about the sizes of Giant Squids that the longest recorded specimen was 42 feet long, 3 feet shy of a single school bus.  No here is the kicker.  Giant Squids are longer than Colossal Squids.

Steve O’Shea one of the world’s leading experts on Big Ass Squids has this to say.

On April 1, 2003 the popular press was first alerted to the Colossal Squid, a.k.a. Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, although this species has been known to the scientific community since 1925, after it was described from two arm (brachial) crowns recovered from sperm whale stomachs (Robson 1925). We have located 11 further reports in which adult and subadult specimens have been described, and are aware of at least 7 further, similarly sized specimens that have yet to be reported. Juveniles of this species are not uncommon from surface waters to ~1000m depth….This species attains the greatest weight, but not necessarily greatest length of all squid species, and is known to attain a mantle length of at least 2.5m.

A newer specimen caught since Steve wrote the above is the Te Papa Museum Museum tank specimen that I’ve seen in person. It measures in at an actual total length on the 5.4 meters (17.7 feet).

17.7 feet is no where close to 90 feet.

Why does this all matter?


Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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