An international collaborative study has uncovered the truth: that the sizes of many larger-than-life marine creatures have been exaggerated.
The research – which involved 25 species, including the blue whale, giant squid and great white shark – compared the size measurements found in databases and historical records with museum specimens.
Publishing their findings in the Peerj journal, the researchers concluded that in many cases, the documented sizes are much larger than the real-life specimens.
As a result of this research, the giant squid (Architeuthis dux) shrank from the alleged length of up to 19 metres to 12 metres. One reason for the discrepancy may be the fact that upon decay, the muscles of the animal's carcass would have stretched.
As for the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), it lost a good 2.5 metres, and saw its maximum length shortened to a verifiable 18.8 metres.
Similarly, the maximum size of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) dropped from 8 to 7.13 metres. And in the case of an attack, the reported size of the shark would often be much larger than the actual size. In such situations, the researchers observe a correlation between the severity of the attack and the shark's reported size, perhaps because being attacked by a small-sized shark isn't all that impressive.
However, for the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), the study confirms as accurate the record length of 33 metres as it has been reported.