Sizing Ocean Giants: The Paper!

Marine_megafauna_InfographicI am elated to announce the publication of Sizing Ocean Giants, a tome on the sizes of everything from Giant Barrel Sponges and Giant Isopods to Great Whites and Sperm Whales.  You want Giant Oarfish?  We got them!  You want Leatherback Turtles? We got them too? And we’ll throw in a Colossal Squid as a bonus.  The paper besides including a whole mess of size data and information for close to 30 animals, reveals the challenges of measuring a giant in the ocean.

Sure that is all great but what paper so big it rivals an ocean giant?  Well you are in luck!  The 69-page tome is available!  But the best part for you is that the paper is published in PeerJ so it is completely open access and available to you for free. That’s right completely free!

But you want more?  How about a super team of authors?  What about a team of science super heros on Twitter?  Needless to say collecting all the known size data and literature on the sizes of all these animals is a herculean effort.  It’s one part a databasing effort and one part historical research going through the literature, museum specimens, talking with other scientists and collectors, and even checking Ebay for specimens for sale.

Afuera underwater

‘Scuse me, comin’ through

The effort was not singular and included the massive efforts of five undergraduates–Catherine Chen, Leo Gaskins, Frank Lee, Caroline Schanche, and Shane Stone.  A cast of thousands helped us fill in the gaps.  A lot of the authors are on Twitter so feel free to reach out to them (@clschanche @ccfrankee @catherine_chenn @realshanetrain @MegBalk @AlistairDove @RebeccaRHelm @TrevorABranch @SFriedScientist @DrCraigMc

Hey you want size data?  And some statistical code to generate some cool body size plots.  We got that too! You can download from Dryad all the data and R-code to analyze, plot, and just generally play around with the data yourself.

And as bonus, because we love you all, we have an inforgraphic with all of your favorite ocean giants and their largest known sizes to download.

 NOAA scientists with giant squid aboard the NOAA research vessel Gordon Gunter. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA scientists with giant squid aboard the NOAA research vessel Gordon Gunter. (Credit: NOAA)

McClain, C.R., M.A. Balk, M.C. Benfield, T.A. Branch, C. Chen, J. Cosgrove, A. Dove, L.C. Gaskins, R.R. Helm, F.G.E. Hochberg,, F.B. Lee, S.E. McMurray, C. Schanche, S.N. Stone, and A.D. Thaler (2015) Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna. Peer J2:e715; DOI 10.7717/peerj.715

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

3 Replies to “Sizing Ocean Giants: The Paper!”

  1. So the “Colossal squid” is actually smaller than the “Giant Squid”? Weird. I also miss from this paper the impressive measures of “Praya Dubia” and “Lineus longissimus”.

  2. Im not shure but i think the mantle length of the collosal squid of the tepapa museum was 2.5 meters long! With tentacels it was 5,4 meters..they’ve got a bigger mantle then the giant squid but shorter tentacles

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