Recently, Quarks to Quasar’s on Facebook published an illustration (above) of how massive a Colossal Squid can reach. The Facebook post was liked by 3,300 people and shared 1,150 times (they have 351k followers). I am excited that the Colossal Squid is loved by this many people. One problem. The illustration is wrong. Really wrong. Although the Colossal Squid can reach, well, colossal proportions, the length of this big squid is grossly exaggerated in the above illustration.
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.
So more realistic would be
No doubt you have also seen the Amazing Ocean Facts circulating around the web. Overall, I love the concept. Humor, cartoons, ocean creatures, and some science. Yes more please! However, I have to speak out against both 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. Now here is the kicker. Giant Squids are longer than Colossal Squids.
Hat tip to Steve Haddock from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute who brought this to my attention. Make sure you check out his page on Facebook Jellywatch.