5 largest living creatures in the sea, let’s explore, what are they like

The largest living things in the world call the sea their home, and in fact, the largest creature to have ever lived on the planet currently resides in the ocean. Some of these creatures remain elusive and wildly mysterious. That’s what happens when you live in a place as unexplored as the ocean. And that’s also why it has been especially difficult to nail down the size of certain sea creatures. At least it was until a group of scientific researchers embarked on a comprehensive survey and review of past studies for the largest known marine species. Here is what they found.

1Lion’s Mane Jellyfish | Total Length: 120 Feet (36.6 Meters)

An orange lion's mane jellyfish floating with its long white tentacles extended into the water.

While the blue whale is the overall-largest creature of the sea, the lion’s mane jellyfish goes to the top of the list for being the longest. These languid beauties have tentacles that reach an astonishing 120 feet in length.3

It’s hard to know why they are graced with such extraordinary appendages. They are said to get tangled in marine debris or with other tentacles, and as they take notably more time to contract, they are more vulnerable to predators with a taste for jellyfish arms. That said, their long main of poison-equipped tentacles makes an excellent trap for prey.

2 Blue Whale | Total Length: 108.27 Feet (33 Meters)

Aerial shot of a blue whale in the ocean

Most of us have seen photos of a glorious, gigantic blue whale; but without something to show scale, it’s hard to fathom just how tremendous they are in size. The blue whale is the largest animal ever known to have existed — even out-sizing dinosaurs. They weigh up to 441,000 pounds. Their hearts are the size of a car; their heartbeats can be detected from two miles away.4 At birth, they already rank amongst the largest full-grown animals. Because of commercial whaling, the species almost went extinct by the 20th century. Thankfully, it has slowly recovered following the global whaling ban. That said, there are fewer than 25,000 individuals left. These animals remain endangered and face a number of serious threats including ship strikes and the impacts of climate change.

3 Sperm Whale | Total Length: 78.74 Feet (24 Meters)

A male sperm whale swimming near the ocean's surface.

At almost 80 feet in length, the beautiful sperm whale happens to be the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator of all. If you were to place it on its end and put it on the street, it would be as tall as an eight-story building. Its clicking call can be as loud as 230 decibels underwater, equivalent to 170 decibels on land— about the loudness of a rifle shot within a few feet of one’s ear.6 It has the largest brain of any animal on the planet, tipping the scales at around 20 pounds.7 Unfortunately for the sperm whale, they were fiercely hunted in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Whalers sought the spermaceti — a waxy substance found in cavities in the whale’s head — which was used for candles, soap, cosmetics, lamp oil, and many other commercial applications.8 Before whaling, there were an estimated 1.1 million sperm whales. Today, there are several hundred thousand — which may be a lot compared to other whales in peril, but still disheartening given their once abundant population.

4 Whale Shark | Total Length: 61.68 Feet (18.8 Meters)

A white-spotted whale shark swims underwater above a reef.

Meet the largest fish in the sea, the beautiful whale shark. These majestic giants roam the oceans across the planet, looking for plankton and doing other things that fish do — sometimes even playing with people who love to swim with them. At 60 feet in length, if you run into a whale shark, you’re unlikely to miss this friendly creature. If the shark’s size doesn’t get your attention, the distinct light and dark markings should.9 More whale than shark, these fish are listed as endangered as they are still hunted in some parts of the world.10

5 Basking Shark | Total Length: 40.25 Feet (12.27 Meters)

A basking shark underwater with its mouth wide open feeding with two scuba divers nearby.

The basking shark is, to the best of our knowledge, the second largest fish in the modern ocean. The largest one on record measured in at over 40 feet — about the length of a school bus. And even more impressively, they can weigh in the range of 8,500 pounds.11 The basking shark is often seen with its enormous snout open wide near the water’s surface. But not to worry should you come across one while taking a dip in the ocean; they are gentle giants with a diet of mostly plankton, fish eggs, and larvae.

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