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Largest Animals in the Ocean

Updated on February 22, 2015

The ocean is home to some of the largest animals known to inhabit the planet. This is no surprise given that the planet is about 71 percent water, most of which is considered ocean environments. For the most part, the giant of the ocean are considered docile and no real threat to humans. However, like most wild animals they can be unpredictable and should be approached with caution when being observed in the wild.

Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Blue Whale

Measuring between 98 feet and 119 feet long, the blue whale is considered the largest mammal to every live on this planet. It weighs around 418,874 pounds (190 metric tons) but it is thought that some individual blue whales can exceed this average weight. Aside from holding the title as the largest mammal in the world, it is the largest baleen whale with the fin whale in close second at 72 feet in length. Currently, the blue whale and the fin whale are listed on IUCN's endangered species list due to whaling.

Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm Whale

The sperm whale hold the title as the largest toothed whale in the ocean. Measuring at 67 feet long, this giant animal can weigh up to 110,230 pounds (50 metric tons). It is listed on the IUCN's list of vulnerable species due to whaling. The sperm whale has been known to attack back at whalers trying to hunt them. One most memorable account was in 1820 when a sperm whale sank the American whaling ship the Essex when they attacked it. Other than humans, the sperm whale as very few predators to worry about. It primarily feeds on fish and squid, including the colossal squid which is next in the countdown.

Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni)
Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni)

Colossal Squid

Next in line for the largest animals of the ocean is the colossal squid. It measures 59 feet and weighs approximately 2205 pounds. It is the largest of eight species of giant squid.Their eyes alone are 11 feet across. Although there is still much to learn about the colossal squid, it is believe that it is the largest invertebrate known to man. They are known to feed on deep ocean fish as well as other squid. Their primary predator threat comes from sperm whales, pilot whales, and some sharks.

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

Whale Shark

The whale shark is the largest filter feeding shark in the depths of the sea. The whale shark holds the title for the largest cartilaginous fish in the ocean.The average measurement of a whale shark is 41.5 feet and weighing over 79,000 pounds (36 metric tons). Although the size of their mouths could easily swallow humans, these gentle giants primarily feed on various types of plankton. The IUCN lists the whale shark as a vulnerable species.

Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)
Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)

Orca (Killer Whale)

More commonly referred to as the killer whale, orcas aren't whales at all. They were once mistaken as whales due to its large size. However, orcas hold the title as the largest dolphin found in the world's oceans. Females measure 18 to 22 feet in length and weigh approximately 5 metric tons. Of course the males are much larger measuring up to 25 feet long and weighing up to 10 metric tons. However, the largest orca that has ever been measured was found off the coast of Japan and measured 32 feet long. They enjoy a diet of seal, seal lion, fish, and even the occasional shark.

Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola)
Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola)

Ocean Sunfish

The ocean sunfish can reach lengths of 12 feet, heights of 15 feet, and weigh around 5,000 pounds. It holds the record as the largest living bony fish in the ocean today. Sunfish enjoy dining on large amounts of jellyfish. As far as what dines on them; orcas, sea lions, and sharks make the list. In parts of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan the ocean sunfish is considered a delicacy.

Japanese Spider Crab (Macrocheira kaempferi)
Japanese Spider Crab (Macrocheira kaempferi)

Japanese Spider Crab

The Japanese spider crab, also known as the giant crab, holds the title as the largest animal with a shell in the ocean. Measuring from claw to claw, it comes in at an average 13 feet and can weigh up to 40 pounds. Their diet consists of fish, mollusks, plants, and algae. The Japanese spider crab predators mainly consist of octopus and humans. The IUCN has not evaluated this species, but in some places they are a sought after delicacy. Some countries have their own protection orders in place to protect these giants.

If any place in the world can house large animals, the ocean is the place to be. From the smallest animals to the largest animals of the ocean, there is still so much to learn still about the what lives in the world's oceans


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