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Sizing Ocean Giants
McClain CR, Balk MA, Benfield MC, Branch TA, Chen C, Cosgrove J, Dove ADM, Gaskins LC, Helm R, Hochberg FG, Lee FB, Marshall A, McMurray SE, Schanche C, Stone SN, Thaler AD (2015) Data from: Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna. Southwestern Pacific OBIS, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand, 3293 records, Online released on July 2, 2015.

Access data
Archived data
Availability: CC0 To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this dataset has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this dataset.

What are the greatest sizes that the largest marine megafauna obtain? This is a simple question with a difficult and complex answer. Many of the largest-sized species occur in the world’s oceans. For many of these, rarity, remoteness, and quite simply the logistics of measuring these giants has made obtaining accurate size measurements difficult. Inaccurate reports of maximum sizes run rampant through the scientific literature and popular media. Moreover, how intraspecific variation in the body sizes of these animals relates to sex, population structure, the environment, and interactions with humans remains underappreciated. more

Here, we review and analyze body size for 25 ocean giants ranging across the animal kingdom. For each taxon we document body size for the largest known marine species of several clades. We also analyze intraspecific variation and identify the largest known individuals for each species. Where data allows, we analyze spatial and temporal intraspecific size variation. We also provide allometric scaling equations between different size measurements as resources to other researchers. In some cases, the lack of data prevents us from fully examining these topics and instead we specifically highlight these deficiencies and the barriers that exist for data collection. Overall, we found considerable variability in intraspecific size distributions from strongly left- to strongly right-skewed. We provide several allometric equations that allow for estimation of total lengths and weights from more easily obtained measurements. In several cases, we also quantify considerable geographic variation and decreases in size likely attributed to humans.

Biology > Fish, Biology > Invertebrates, Biology > Reptiles
Marine/Coastal, World Oceans, Architeuthis dux Steenstrup, 1857, Bathynomus giganteus A. Milne-Edwards, 1879, Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765), Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761), Enteroctopus dofleini (Wülker, 1910), Mola mola (Linnaeus, 1758)

Geographical coverage
World Oceans [Marine Regions]

Temporal coverage
1856 - 2013

Taxonomic coverage
Architeuthis dux Steenstrup, 1857 [WoRMS]
Bathynomus giganteus A. Milne-Edwards, 1879 [WoRMS]
Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765) [WoRMS]
Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761) [WoRMS]
Enteroctopus dofleini (Wülker, 1910) [WoRMS]
Mola mola (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]

Occurrence of biota

Duke University, moredata creator
Georgia Aquarium Research Center, moredata creator
Louisiana State University; Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences (DOCS), moredata creator
Marine Megafauna Foundation, moredata creator
Royal British Columbia Museum, moredata creator
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBNature), moredata creator
University of New Mexico, moredata creator
University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), moredata creator
University of Washington, moredata creator
Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), moredata creator
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), moredata creator

Related datasets
Published in:
NZOBIS: Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biodiversity Information System, more

Dataset status: Completed
Data type: Data
Metadatarecord created: 2016-01-20
Information last updated: 2016-01-20
All data in the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy