Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Who Would Win In A Fight?

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: November 30, 2021
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When we get talking about epic fights between animals we often imagine lions taking an incredibly powerful elephant, or a big cat taking on a crocodile.  However, possibly one of the most surprising fights takes place deep in the heart of the ocean.  Incredibly, that fight is a sperm whale vs giant squid.

So, what makes this fight so unusual?  Well, although they share the same habitat, that’s really as far as the similarities go.  These animals are completely different.  There is a vast difference in their weight, one can bite while the other one can’t, and they hunt in different ways.  Despite this, it proves to be one of the most unusual and fascinating battles of the deep.

Comparing Giant Squid vs Sperm Whale

Sperm whales are relatively peaceful animals, preferring to spend much of their time deep underwater searching for food.  Although giant squid are ambush predators, they too rarely come into contact with humans and remain deep underwater.

Sperm whales are much larger than giant squid and have much bigger teeth.  Surely that should instantly give them a massive advantage?  Well, lets compare the sperm whale and the giant squid so we can find out just how has the advantage and would win in a fight.

Check out the chart below to learn a few of the main differences.

Giant SquidSperm Whale
Size30 to 40 feet long
Up to 600 pounds
60 to 70 feet long
Up to 90,000 pounds
HabitatIn the Twilight Zone (depths between 1,000 and 2,000 feet) in most oceansDeep oceans all around the world
TeethSharp beak and a tongue covered with tiny, razor-sharp teeth20 to 26 teeth on each side of lower jaw
DietFish, shrimp, other squidsFish, sharks, skates, squid
PredatorsSperm whales, pilot whales, sleeper sharksOrcas, pilot whales, false killer whales
SpeedEstimated up to 25 mphBursts of up to 23 mph
Hunting TacticsSeizes with two tentacles and latch on with their suction cupsUses echolocation to find their prey, then sucks prey in and swallows it whole
LifespanAround 5 yearsAround 70 years

The 6 Key Differences Between Sperm Whales and Giant Squids

Interesting animals – sperm whale
The sperm whale’s blowhole is on the left side of its head, which is unusual among cetaceans. 

Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Size (H3)

Sperm whales are massive whales and reach between 60 and 70 feet long, with males being larger than females.  Giant squid are the second largest squid in the world (only colossal squid are larger) and reach lengths of between 30 and 40 feet, including their tentacles.  However, despite their incredible length, there is a vast difference in weight.  Giant squid only reach a maximum of 600 pounds while sperm whales far outweigh them at up to 90,000 pounds.  Advantage: Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Appearance

Sperm whales are large whales and much of their size is taken up by their massive head, which can be as much as one-third of their entire length.  They are dark grey and have small flippers.  Their dorsal fins are small and often rounded, and their tail fin is triangular in shape.  They are particularly unusual as their blowhole is not centrally located on their head, but is instead offset to the left-hand side.

Giant squid have large eyes, a beak, eight arms, and two tentacles.  Their tentacles are the largest of any squid and are even longer than those of the colossal squid.  Each arm and tentacle is covered with hundreds of suction cups which are lined with extremely sharp rings.  They attach these suckers to their prey to prevent them from escaping.  Advantage: Giant Squid

Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Teeth

Sperm whales have between 20 and 26 teeth on each side of their lower jaw.  However, they don’t have upper teeth as they rarely descend below their gum line.  Instead, their lower teeth fit neatly into sockets in their upper jaw.  This means that they are unable to bite their prey and instead rely on suction to suck them into their mouths.

Giant squid have sharp parrot-like beaks and a tongue which has rows of tiny, razor sharp teeth on each side.  They use their beak and teeth to bite their prey into smaller chunks for them to swallow.  Advantage: Giant Squid

Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Diet

The diet of giant squid consists mainly of fish, shrimp, and other squids.  Cannibalism is frequent in giant squid and they often feast on other giant squid.

Sperm whales eat between 3 and 3.5 percent of their own bodyweight per day.  Their diet consists of deep sea fish, sharks, skates, and squid, and a popular meal for sperm whales is actually giant squid.  Advantage: Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Hunting Tactics

Sperm whales regularly dive to some of the deepest depths of the ocean in search of food.  Very little light penetrates the deepest parts of the ocean, so sperm whales rely on echolocation to find their prey.  As we’ve already mentioned above, despite having teeth sperm whales actually can’t bite their prey.  Instead, they rely on suction to suck their prey into their mouth so that they can swallow it whole.

Giant squid are ambush predators and wait for their prey to come it to reach.  Once their prey close enough giant squid lunge and grab them with their two tentacles.  After they’ve grabbed their prey they latch on with the suction cups that are on their arms so that they can’t escape.  Advantage: Giant Squid

Sperm Whale vs Giant Squid: Predators

Sperm whales have only a few predators.  These are orcas, pilot whales, and false killer whales, although male sperm whales are so large that they don’t have many predators.  The predators of giant squid are sleeper sharks, pilot whales, and sperm whales.

Giant squid
Giant squid can reach 40 fet long

sciencepics/Shutterstock.com

Who would Win in a Fight Between a Sperm Whale and a Giant Squid?

Considering that giant squid are on the menu for sperm whales, sperms whales often win in fights against giant squid.  However, giant squid don’t go down easy and put up a brave fight against the much larger and heavier sperm whale.  This is evident by the scars that are often seen on sperm whales from the tentacles of giant squid.  Giant squid attach their suction cups to the sperm whales which leave scars in the shape of circular rings.  These scars are usually seen on the heads of sperm whales, showing that giant squid haven’t been an easy meal for the sperm whale.  Not only that, but the beaks of giant squid (which are indigestible) have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales.

As sperm whales use suction to pull their prey into their mouths, rather than biting and incapacitating them, it can be assumed that giant squid use their arms and tentacles to try to prevent this from happening and save themselves.  After all, it must be quite difficult for a sperm whale to suck something that’s 40 feet long into it’s mouth anyway!  However, in the end, the sheer size and strength of the sperm whale gives it the biggest advantage and ultimately it wins the fight.

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) (H2)

How deep can sperm whales dive?

Sperm whales can dive to depths of around 10,000 feet and remain underwater for up to 90 minutes before they need to surface to breathe again.

Are sperm whales dangerous to humans?

No, sperm whales are not typically dangerous to humans.  They prefer to spend their time in deep water searching for food.

Are giant squid dangerous to humans?

Although there are legendary tales of giant squids attacking ships and sailors, the truth is that they are not considered to be dangerous to humans.  Instead, they spend their lives in deep water far below ships or divers.  That’s not to say that they aren’t technically capable of causing injuries to humans.  However, Humboldt squid are considered to be the most dangerous squid, with several reports of them having attacked and eaten divers.

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About the Author

I'm an avid animal lover, and when not writing I can be found on my farm surrounded by dogs, horses, and sheep.

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