A team of scientists has analyzed the body size of 25 marine species, including sharks, whales, jellyfish and other ocean giants, in an effort to correct inaccuracies about their actual measurements, and reveal how big the largest sea-dwelling animals can get.
The newly released measurements, presented in a study in the latest issue of the journal PeerJ, showed that most data about the body size of huge marine animals are largely erroneous, with people often overestimating the size of a shark or other big ocean animals by a broad margin. For the new study, scientists obtained information about body length of marine animals from previous studies, fisheries, marine centers and other scientists.
“Several years ago I noticed that people kept staying that giant squids reached 60 feet in length, which is amazingly long,” Craig McClain, assistant director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham and the lead author of the study, said in a statement. “When I started actually looking at the data, I found that that estimate was actually quite unrealistic.”
According to the study, the world’s longest animal in the ocean is the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, with extended tentacles that can give the animal an incredible length of 120 feet. However, the study said its estimate may not be the final conclusion.
The study found that the blue whale, with the lengthiest body among all the whale species, could grow up to 108.27 feet in length. According to McClain, blue whales are less susceptible to starvation. He further explained that if a habitat is depleted of food, these animals have the enough mass to support a migration and subsequent fasting to reach more plankton-rich waters.
Other marine creatures in the top five in order of length are the sperm whale, whale shark and basking shark, with the maximum possible body length of 78.74 feet, 61.68 feet and 40.25 feet, respectively, according to the study.
Here are the rest of the animals, rounding off the top 10:
- Giant Squid -- 39.37 feet
- Giant Octopus -- 32.15 feet
- Giant Oarfish -- 26.25 feet
- Great White Shark -- 22.96 feet
- Manta Ray -- 22.96 feet
“Precise, accurate, and quantified measurements matter at both a philosophical and pragmatic level,” McClain said. “Saying something is approximately ‘this big,’ while holding your arms out won't cut it, nor will inflating how large some of these animals are.”