Dec 24, 2002
Greetings TONMO'ers!

Here's a question dealing with predatory tactics: What exactly kills a (giant) squid during predation by, say... a Sperm whale? Yes, yes, I know that the squid is pretty much ripped apart, but is the actual cause of death blunt force trauma, rapid depressurization, dismemberment, loss of blood, or any other factor?

Yes, there is a reason for such a grim question, but dinner calls... be back later!

Sushi and Sake,

Hmmmmmmm. I always remember Malcolm Clarke saying that they didn't like being 'squeezed' (and he knows more about sperm whales and squid than anyone alive (and probably passed on).

My experience with sperm whale stomach contents is limited to beaks alone - no soft tissues remaining in any of the 11 that I've looked at (personally extracted), 2 archived, and about 25 pygmy sperm whales (similarly archived). However, what I've read says that the squid are consumed whole, without tooth marks (as in not chewed, and not really dismembered). Then you read the literature and you'll also find that many of the squid (described from stomach contents) are incomplete, as in species described from a mantle or head only (this applies to the greatest majority of accounts). So I'm a little confused. Are they really eating whole squid, or eating large parts of squid, and gulping them down whole?

The literature (and I can testify from personal observation) also says that the skin lining of the whale's mouth is very thick, and that this probably helps the whale consume large and unruly squid (with hooks and other sharp biting bits). The squid, supposedly consumed whole, are passed into the whale's first stomach, and the compression (squeezing) pretty much puts an end to their struggling. The lining of this first stomach is also said to be quite thick (but I wouldn't have thought so, based on what I saw) ... so again I'm confused. It is also rather small, so I sat there wondering how on earth a whale could eat a large squid, without filling that stomach right up .... and more .... and then some .... but obviously they can do this, so it must be quite distensible. More questions than answers.

The literature also says that they only have teeth in the lower jaw .... but this isn't true either. They have small teeth in their upper jaw, in the sockets into which the lower-jaw teeth fit. The largest bull amongst the recent stranded whales had near similar-sized teeth in both upper and lower jaws ... though this was, apparently, quite rare.

You have to watch that literature!!!

So, in response to your question John, I really don't know the answer, and I don't think that the question can be answered on the basis of existing literature/film. There are just too many conflicting accounts out there.

What are you up to?
Aye, now the reason for the question...

I find that, on land, species are often defined by their predators. Evolutionary leaps and bounds occur often when dealing with the idea that you may become lunch. I was wondering what defenses squid have (from basic weaponry all the way to predator saturation, etc.). Maybe there's a path here among the world of cephs?


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