Skip to comments.Rare Photos: Giant Squid Eaten by Sperm Whale
Posted on 09/25/2010 9:17:00 AM PDT by nickcarraway
Saving It for Later?
Eating on the run, a female sperm whale carries the remains of a giant squid off the Bonin Islands, about 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo, on October 15, 2009.
The whale almost certainly carried the giant morsel up from the dark depths of the nearby Osagawara Trench, a favorite hunting ground of sperm whales. The whales routinely dive for an hour or more to depths of up to 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) in pursuit of giant squid, which are thought to rarely venture higher than 1,000 feet (300 meters) below sea level.
Battles between giant squid and sperm whales often leave the whales scarred with sucker marks. Until recently, such wounds--along with analysis of sperm whale stomach contents--were the only proof of the whales' appetite for giant squid.
A Whale of a Party
A female sperm whale, carrying a piece of giant squid in her mouth, leads a gargantuan dinner party in the northwestern Pacific on October 15, 2009. Sperm whales are voracious hunters of squidthe species as a whole consumes an estimated 110 million tons a year.
Aiding the sperm whale in its hunts is the world's largest brain, which is surrounded by patches of spermaceti. Once used in candles and ointments, the white, waxy substance was long ago mistaken for the whale's sperm, leading to the species' curious name.
Carrying the remains of a roughly 30-foot (9-meter) giant squid in her jaws, a female sperm whale, with a calf at her side, swims near the surface off Japan's Bonin Islands (map) in the northwestern Pacific. Taken on October 15, this and other "absolutely sensational" new pictures offer rare proof of the sperm whale's taste for giant squid, said giant squid expert Steve O'Shea of the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.
The pictures may also reveal that adult sperm whales, which grow up to 59 feet (18 meters) long, use pieces of their prizes to teach youngsters how to catch their own, O'Shea told National Geographic News.
The group of five adults and one calf kept diving deep in unison, photographer Tony Wu told the Daily Mail. "It seemed as if the adult whales were trying to teach the baby to dive and also to eat squid," he said.
An 11.5-foot-long (3.5-meter-long) leftover, this giant squid arm was recovered at the surface from another sperm whale hunt on October 14, 2009, in the same place as feeding frenzy photographed underwater the next day.
At this site in 2006, a Japanese expedition had captured the first ever images of a live giant squid.
During the rare October 15 photo shoot, photographer Tony Wu was "absolutely ecstatic," he told National Geographic News. "But completely focused on making sure I got photos."
Part of a sperm whale's catch--a giant squid--drifts free in one of the rare pictures captured in the Pacific on October 15, 2009.
The whale at right was also photographed carrying the giant morsel in her mouth--rare evidence of the whales' taste for giant squid, which some researchers say can grow to 43 feet (13 meters) long and weigh more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms).
The whales use sophisticated echolocation--similar to sonar--to find their quarry in the pitch blackness of the deep.
Pretty content look on his/her face.....mmmm fresh calamari!!
It’s good to be on top of the food chain.
Yah, well wait till little miss content goes up against this:
Great pictures! Thanks for the post...I’d have never seen the article if you hadn’t bothered.
That is absolutely spectacular.
Those pictures are fantastic!
Ain't it the truth.
Go Hogs (Anybody but Bama)
We should hunt down and kill every last Sperm Whale on the planet so this never happens again.
Can’t be...It’s global warming killing these strange creatures.
Amazing creatures/mammals. They dive to 3,000 feet in total darkness. Incredible.
I hate it when I get something stuck between my teeth and it won’t come out.
These pics are stunning because the water is freakishly clear - looks like 400 foot visibility - unusual anywhere.
Very cool post. Thanks.
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