top of page

The Giant Squid

The giant squid lurks down in the dark depths of the deep sea. The enormous eyes of the giant squid and sharp-toothed suckers make this a formidable predator.

Common Name
Scientific Name
Giant Squid
Giant squid eat fish, shrimp, squid, and potentially small whales.
43 feet (13 m)
2,000 feet (610 m)
Found in all of the world's oceans.
Mesopelagic Zone

The Giant Squid

Down in the black abyss of the ocean, a leviathan lurks in wait of its next meal. The enormous eyes of the giant squid, and the sharp-toothed suckers that line its feeding tentacles, make this a formidable predator, able to snatch prey from up to 33 feet away. It has eight arms coated with 2-inch wide toothed suckers that guide prey from the feeding tentacles to a sharp central beak. Here, the prey is cut and ground by a tongue-like radula, coated with rows of teeth.

At 1 foot in diameter, its eyes are the largest found in the natural world, a powerful advantage in the lightless depths where it lives, allowing this cephalopod to see bioluminescent prey in the dark, or catch sight of predators lurking nearby.

In spite of their enormous size, with some found to be as long as 42 feet, they are not the apex predators of the depths. They are known to be prey for a number of other organisms. Most notably, sperm whales have been observed with sucker marks on their skin, battle scars so large that no other creature could be responsible. Furthermore, giant squid beaks and flesh have been found in the stomachs of both sperm whales and Greenland sharks, another monster of the deep that you can read about on this site.

Similarly to Greenland sharks, the Giant Squid perfectly demonstrates Deep Sea Gigantism, a phenomenon thought to be caused by colder temperature, food scarcity, and reduced predation pressure in the deep sea leading to deep sea organisms growing larger than their shallower water relatives.

The story of the giant squid is one of mystery; most of what we know about them comes from carcasses that have washed ashore, for although they are huge they are among the most elusive deep sea animals that we know of, only filmed for the first time as recently as 2006, when researchers suspended bait beneath a research vessel off the Ogasawara Islands and hooked one of these leviathans. A 24-foot squid was hauled to the surface and caught on camera, allowing the world to catch its first glimpse of this mysterious and otherworldly creature, that inspired so many tales of monsters and sea-serpents.