Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: What Are The Differences?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: July 12, 2022
© Jiri Flogel/Shutterstock.com
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The ocean depths have many interesting creatures lurking in them. The colossal squid is a large, mysterious cephalopod that lives thousands of feet below the ocean surface. The sperm whale is one of the most massive creatures on the planet and the largest toothed carnivore in the world. These two animals are unique but also share overlapping habitats. So, we’re going to ask: what are the differences between a colossal squid vs sperm whale?

Not only will we show you five different ways that these animals differ, but we will also show you which of them would win in a fight.

Comparing a Colossal Squid and a Sperm Whale

Sperm whales are larger than colossal squids.

©A-Z-Animals.com

Colossal SquidSperm whale
SizeWeight: 1,100-1,500 lbs
Length: 30-46 ft
Weight: 15-45 tons on average
Length: 49-59 ft
Morphology– Large head  
– Two large fins stemming from the top of its head
– Massive eyes measuring up to 16 inches in diameter
– 8 Arms and two tentacles
– Tentacles measure from 4 to 7 ft                             
– Hooks on its arms and tentacles
– Has a strong beak to bite prey
– Red skin  
– Long, dark gray body with a massive head
– 36-60 teeth on the lower jaw that measure 2 lbs and over 4 in long
– Massive triangular fluke that measures over 10 feet from tip to tip.
–  Small hump and several ridges on the top latter third of its back  
Range– The Southern Ocean
– Ranges from Antarctica to the tip of South America and almost to South Africa
– Found in all oceans    
Habitat– Found deep in the water, often more than 3,000 ft deep
– Found only in cold habitats
– Regularly dive about 2,000-3,300 ft
– Must surface for air
– Males prefer higher latitudes outside of breeding season
– Females and juveniles will stay in more temperate waters
Scientific NameMesonychoteuthis hamiltoniPhyseter macrocephalus

The 5 Key Differences Between a Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale

Animals with large eyes – colossal squid
The colossal squid has enormous eyes that assist it in finding prey in the dark ocean depths.

©Rui Palma/Shutterstock.com

The greatest differences between a colossal squid and a sperm whale are their size, range, and morphology. A colossal squid is a large cephalopod from the Southern Ocean with 8 limbs, two tentacles, and red skin that measures up to 46 ft in length and weighs up to 1,500 lbs. The sperm whale is found in every ocean in the world, weighs up to 45 tons and measures 59 ft long, and has a large gray body with a massive head.

These two creatures could not be more different from each other if they tried! However, we’re going to plumb the depths of these unique characteristics and show you everything that makes them different and how they measure up to each other.  

Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: Size

Sperm whales are larger than colossal squids. The average sperm whale weighs anywhere between 15 and 45 tons, far more than the largest specimen of colossal squid ever found. Also, sperm whales measure between 49 and 59 feet in length.

Meanwhile, the colossal squid weighs about 1,100 to 1,500 lbs, a very large cephalopod. Moreover, they measure up to 46 ft long, including their extensive tentacles.

The sperm whale is much, much larger in every measure of size.

Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: Morphology

The colossal squids have a noteworthy bodies. They are easily identified by the presence of their red skin and their eyes which can measure 16 inches in diameter. These are the largest animal eyes of any animal ever discovered, and they are the size of a soccer ball.

The colossal squid also is known for its large head and the two fins extending from it. They have 8 arms that they use to grasp prey, and each arm is fitted with hooks. Once they capture food in an ambush, they feed it toward their large beak, where they rip into the prey’s flesh and then swallow it. They also possess tentacles that measure between 4 and 7 feet in length.

Sperm whales have no tentacles or fins jutting from the top of their heads. They have a massive dark gray body with a huge head. The lower part of their head is outfitted with a lower jaw that has up to 52 teeth measuring 4 inches long each. Sperm whales are the largest toothed whale and the largest toothed carnivore in the world.  

They use this massive mouth to feed on squid and other creatures in the deep ocean waters. These whales also possess a small hump and several ridges running down their backs, along with a large tail that they swing up and down to propel their bodies forward. Their fluke, the end of their tail, can measure up to 16 ft or more from tip to tip.

Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: Range

The colossal squid has a relatively small range. They only live in the Southern Ocean and range up to the same latitude as the southernmost portion of South America and South Africa. However, the sperm whale is found in all oceans around the world.

Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: Habitat

Pods of sperm whales, those consisting of females and juveniles, are often found in warmer waters such as those around the Indian Ocean and tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean. However, males are known to wander when they’re not mating. They will opt for higher latitudes, and it’s in those areas that they encounter colossal squid.

Most colossal squids are found incredibly deep in the ocean, about 3,000 ft deep. Sperm whales can dive to this depth in search of food, and they use their echolocation to lock in on a target. They do not stay in the depths for long, though. The average dive time is about half an hour.

Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: Scientific Name

The colossal squid and sperm whale are not closely related. The sperm whale’s scientific name is Physeter macrocephalus, and the colossal whale’s name is Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni.

Colossal Squid vs Sperm Whale: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Shark Poop - A Sperm Whale Defacating
Sperm whales regularly hunt squid, so they don’t stand a chance in a fight.

©wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

A sperm whale would win a fight against a colossal squid. Generally speaking, sperm whales are well-adapted to killing and eating squid. While the colossal squid is certainly larger than many members of its family, it’s still not very large compared to the sperm whale.

Sperm whales regularly feed on giant squid as well as colossal squid. They do this by using echolocation to find prey in the inky black depths of the ocean. Then, they close in on them with surprising speed and secure the kill.  

Although we might like to think of a colossal squid wrapping a whale in its sharp embrace and eating through it with its beak, that’s not going to happen. The size difference insulates the sperm whale from the colossal squid’s attacks. Its powerful bite will make a quick, chewy meal of the much smaller creature.


The Featured Image

Colossal squid group
© Jiri Flogel/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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