Could a large squid kill a sperm whale?

Discussion in 'Physiology and Biology' started by cbarela, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. cbarela

    cbarela Blue Ring Registered

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    This is something that I have been wondering about. Could a large squid kill a sperm whale? (they haven't shown Steve's Squid vs. Sperm whale show out here yet so I don't know who wins that one...).
    If they could, would it be more of a lucky accident on the squid's part, such blocking the blow hole?
    Are there any instances of this happening?
    Maybe I'll paint that scene next!
     
  2. joel_ang

    joel_ang Architeuthis Registered

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    I'm no expert but i guess a full grown adult Messie could tackle a smaller sperm whale?
     
  3. Cephkid

    Cephkid Sepia elegans Supporter

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    Yes. The sperm whales are occasionally beaten (drowned) by the squid.
     
  4. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    It is possible Joel, but small sperm whales don't venture into the Antarctic, the realm of messie. I read somewhere a long, very long time ago (details now sketchy) that the smallest male sperm whale to be harpooned down that way was 36 feet long. That's still a lot of whale!! The even-smaller female doesn't make the journey.

    It would have to be a foetal sperm whale for a squid to really stand a chance.
     
  5. myopsida

    myopsida Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    Some years ago, we received a report of a dead giant squid washed up at Oterangi Bay (sp?) (where the power cable comes ashore). While measuring the specimen (it was one of those long hot summer days and we had little intention of returning to the office) the caretaker /maintenance guy wandered down and asked about the squids and how big they grew. After some discussion he told us that one evening he had heard a 'commotion' at the shore and had watched for 20-30 minutes as a sperm whale rolled along the beach trying to dislodge a squid which had wrapped itself around the whale's head. Apparently the whale eventually managed to bite enough of the squids arms and free itself, then rested in shallow water for ten minutes before swimming off. He never told anybody because he thought he wouldn't be believed.

    Seems that given the right circumstances a squid could stand a chance . . . .
     
  6. Clem

    Clem Architeuthis Supporter Registered

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    Hello Myopsida,

    That's quite a tale. I don't disbelieve it, but I do wonder just how alive that squid could have been. Could an ex-squid remain stuck fast to Physeter? Perhaps one of the hook-equipped species...I'm curious about the proximity of this anecdotal event to a submarine cable. Hasn't there been at least one recorded sperm whale drowning after getting tangled in a cable, having (presumably) mistaken it for a prey item?

    If a mature Messie shoved it's arms and tentacles down a (sleeping) juvenile sperm whale's throat, got good hook traction and gave it all a good pull, then, maybe, I could see the whale getting kilt.

    :twocents:

    Clem
     
  7. legendarycroc

    legendarycroc O. bimaculoides Registered

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    i dont belive the squid stands too much of a chance agains an adult sperm whale, ive read the largest whale on record was 67ft long, 72tonnes, and the squid's arms aren't gonna be strong enough to hold on the whale for 2 hours, it's gonna be very tiring, and the whale is obviously much strogner than its oponent, and dont forget he clicks ( usual, coda, creak AND lower) that stuns the prey...
     
  8. Brennan Burns

    Brennan Burns Larval Mass Registered

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    Advantage: Squid!

    Hi guys, I'm new to this great site and believe it or not some insight in to this very question was one of the reasons I joined. To be honest, I'v put alot of research in to this and this question can not be accurately awnsered by ANY scientist known. The only evedence to point to an awnser to this question lies mostly in eyewhitness accounts. I have read an eyewhitness account of a man on a military lessel that was over 170 ft. long. He stated that a squid surfaced close to the side of the ship, he walked the entire length of the ship and saw that the squid was longer! Again, this is only an eye whitness account but a squid that size could strangle a sperm whale to death. I have read another nearly verified account, similar to one mentioned previously in this forum of a soviet whaler whitnesing an epoch battle near the surface of the water between a 40 ton sperm whale and a giant squid. The whale was later found by the ship strangled to death, floating in the sea with the dead squid's tenticles still wraped around it's throat and it's head crushed in in the sperm whale's jaw. Giant squids have actually been known to attack and kill the Right whale for nothing more than sport (supported by eye whitness account). The Brunswick was a 15,000 ton auxiliary tanker owned by the Royal Norwegian Navy, it was documented to be attacked at least three times in it's career by giany squid. This would support the belief that a Giant squid defending it's territory would not hesitate to attack a target even larger than a whale and in some whale vs. squid battles it may very well be the agressor. In the 1930's The fact is, scientists do not know just how big the giant squid gets, the largest specimen was 59 feet long. To be honest guys, I love the Giant Squid more than any other animal on Earth. But it would take a squid of about 130 feet to put up an even battle against a full grown bull sperm whale. Do squid that big exist I say: Darn right they do!

    If you have any questions, please ask away! I'm a good, friendly guy who just loves Giant squid. :welcome:
     
  9. cbarela

    cbarela Blue Ring Registered

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    Welcome Brennan! Be prepared, whatever you know about squids will quadruple here - the wealth of knowlege amonst these folks will astound you as they have me. I think you're going to really enjoy being a part of this group.
    -chris
     
  10. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    The biggest problem with such tales is that they are more influenced by rum/vodka and the natural tendency of men at sea to make their boring terms more eventful by perhaps "colouring" the truth...all of the stories regarding these monster squid can not be validated by photos or real documentation...it is always " I saw it, trust me" evidence...which doesn't hold much water.
    That does not mean that such beasts do not roam the world's ocean's...it just means that they haven't been found yet, maybe...although I think in this instance, Cachalot has by far, the upper hand...(or tooth?) A giant squid attacking a sperm whale would be like a gazelle attacking a pride of lions...possible...but rather unlikely...
    greg
     
  11. Squidman

    Squidman Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    That would have to be one big squid to kill a sperm whale. Oh, where did you find that account of a right whale being killed by squid? In my eleven years of studying giant squid, I have never come across that story.

    -Squidman-
     
  12. Clem

    Clem Architeuthis Supporter Registered

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    Hello Brennan,

    :welcome:

    Was that the account of Dennis Braun, printed in Richard Ellis's book? Braun didn't claim that the squid had surfaced alongside the ship, but that the animal was visible far below the surface, and that it was "probably" 100ft or more in length. You're quite right to point out that this was an uncorroborated eye-witness account, but it is quite a story.

    Never heard that one. If something like that happened, I think it's significant that this scene was observed from a Soviet whaler. Perhaps they recovered a harpooned sperm whale that vomited up a large squid in its death throes, or killed a whale after it had surfaced with its dinner.

    'Twould have to be for sport, wouldn't it? Right whales are massive animals, and unless the squid could somehow physically cover the whale's airway (and be smart enough to do so), there's really no way it could kill such a leviathan.

    Take a look at the Giant Squid and Colossal Squid Fact Sheet for the most accurate and up-to-date assessment of maximum size for the Architeuthis No accurately measured specimen has ever approached 59 ft. in length. That doesn't mean they never attain that size, but there's no physical evidence to suggest that they do. You are right to suggest that squid will attack objects much larger than themselves, but when it occurs it is probably due to a combination of biological imperatives: hunger, innate aggression and deep, deep stupidity. Keep in mind, too, that there's more than one type of "giant" squid, and Architeuthis may not be terribly energetic, especially not at the surface. If the Brunswick was repeatedly rushed by a very large squid, it might have been a different species.

    Look forward to more posts from you, Brennan. Enjoy the forums!

    Cheers,

    Clem
     
  13. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    How odd; Clem, this is the second time this week that I've heard of this story. I don't believe it, or any other of the eyewitness accounts, but I'd be interested to know where this particular story comes from (popular press or web?).
     
  14. Clem

    Clem Architeuthis Supporter Registered

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    Steve,

    The story is oft-repeated on cryptozoology sites, with little variation in language and detail. (Run a google search for "Soviet whaler, giant squid" and you'll see what I mean.) The event supposedly took place in 1965, and most versions hold that the squid's head was found in the whale's stomach, with the arms and tentacles "wrapped around the whale's throat." So, it sounds to me like a Soviet whaler waxed a sperm whale, the whale coughed up some appendages while floating in the water and imagination/vodka/crushing boredom supplied the rest of the story's elements.

    Brennan, there's a fishy tale involving a monster squid in the Indian Ocean, attributed to one A.G. Starkey. Alone on deck (of course) aboard a WWII-era British Admiralty "trawler", he claims to have witnessed a beast on the surface that was longer than his ship. It's another crypto-site staple, and sounds totally unbelievable. For one thing, the size of Starkey's vessel keeps changing: some accounts put it at 60 ft, others at 175 ft. The vessel is described as a trawler, but the Admiralty wasn't in the fishing business during WWII, if ever. Finally, Mr. Starkey claims to have walked the length of the boat during the encounter, finding the squid's tail at one end of the boat and the tentacles at the other. Assuming, for the moment, that there really was a monster squid that helpfully positioned itself next to the nearest scale reference, to believe Mr. Starkey you'd have to accept the existence of a squid fully 100% larger than the largest known specimen of any species. It doesn't add up. Blame the poor quality of wartime rum, I say.

    Cheers,

    Clem
     
  15. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    and also, think of how long it would have taken him to "walk the length" of the boat...the photos of british ships show them cluttered with odds and ends...why would a squid just sit there for so long??? on top of that, that would be one hell of a small trawler...even the pt boats were 76-80 feet in length...
     
  16. Sordes

    Sordes Wonderpus Registered

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    I think it is very very unprobable that any giant squid ever killed a sperm whale. Even newborn sperm whales have a weight of about 1t, as large or even larger than any archi. But this small ones have no contact with big squids, because they don´t dive. If they are big enough to dive, they are also many times heavier than even the larges Mesonychoteuthis, and no squid could drown them. Even small female sperm whales are about 15 tons in weight, that means about 30 times the weight of a very large Archi, it´s comparable to a fight between a mouse and cat.
    Even very large and aggressive species like Mesonychoteuthis had no chance even against a small sperm whale. They are much smaller, and furthermore they have no true weapons against a giant like a sperm whale. Although the skin of sperm whales is very thin, they have thick layers of blubber which would defend them from serious damage from beaks and hooks. Even if a large squid could manage to bite a whale in its eyes, it would have little effect, because such a wound wouldn´t be deadly for the whale, and sperm whales needs no eyes (as several very healthy but also very blind specimens have shown) for orientation. Strangulation seems also unprobably, because sperm whales have most oxygen in their blood and inner organs, and not in their lungs, furthermore their bodies are built to withstand enormous pressure, so a squid had really no possibility to kill a squid.
    But I still ask me which ass tells stories about squids which kill right whales for sport...
     
  17. legendarycroc

    legendarycroc O. bimaculoides Registered

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    http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/squid.htm
    "Giant Squid have been seen in battle with adult whales too. In 1965, a Soviet whaler watched a battle between a squid and a 40 ton sperm whale. In this case neither were victorious. The strangled whale was found floating in the sea with the squid's tentacles wrapped around the whale's throat. The squid's severed head was found in the whale's stomach"

    I think this was the story was mentioned earlier,
    I know of sperm whales to be about 3m in height around the "throat region" and a large architeuthis would have tentacles that are about 10metres long. Theoretically, the architeuthis could only get one coil around the whale's head! Let us compare this to some other animals- a burmese python (13ft) failed to asphyxiate a 6ft gator and had to swallow it alive! The gator was just over double the constrictor's girth.

    From my understanding of reptiles, a snake with 3 or 4 coils around a crocodillian isnt enough to kill him (unless in water- then the croc may be drowned). So in this situation, I find it extremely difficult to believe an architeuthis was actually strong enough that it was able to strangle the whale! Also, aren't suckers powered by muscles? Therefore after death- should "the suckers lose suction"? I find this story incredibly difficult to believe, especially those thin long tentacles strangling a whale with a single coil, whilst constrictors cant with just 3 or 4!

    ----------

    Steve, you responded to my email the other day saying the architeuthis beaks found in physeter bellies are no larger than the 13m giant squids that you have examined, shouldn't this indicate that this is an ongoing cycle, that sperm whales are not reluctant in feeding on even the largest squids- this would be a common act of predation and therefore the chances of a sperm whale being killed a giant squid would be no more likely like any large predator taking slightly smaller prey (considering that sperm whales do not take prey larger than itself).
     
  18. chrono_war01

    chrono_war01 Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Wait..if a large squid exists...and the whales are not eating them, which means no beaks. And it too us so darn long to find Messie and Archie (even with a ample supply of beaks)...this means that there could be bigger things out there, no?
     
  19. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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    Yep, I think we are all pretty much in agreement that no squid we know of would be able to kill a sperm whale or even struggle with it in any meaningful way. In any physical dimension but length, the giant squid (or colossal, for that matter) is significantly smaller.
    There is, of course, the possibility (and secret hope of many, no doubt :wink:) that there is something bigger out there that we don't know about yet, because the whales and other predators we rely on for much of our information don't eat it... :cyclops:
     
  20. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Hi! :smile:

    Referencing that freaky news story about the book about real, scary monsters in the sea, is there a chance that a giant squid could act as a kind of parasite to a whale? If they were to affix to the whale, couldn't they, in theory, kind of feed off the whale, while going along for the ride? So, maybe not "strangle" but "slowly feed on and overcome"? What's a whale gonna do about it?

    Feel free to ignore me. :rolleyes:
     

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