Dr. Clyde Roper

Smithsonian Zoologist Dr. Clyde Roper, the world's foremost authority on giant squid, explores the squid collection at the National Museum of Natural History. He is passionate about giant squid and has traveled the world studying dead specimens on beaches and in museums and searching for living squid. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid featured story.

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Submitted by The Ocean Portal Team on

Hi Mr. Sterling,

Thank you for sharing your story. Dr. Roper has provided some really great information about the giant squid in response:

Giant squid do not eat sperm whales. They eat small fishes, like orange roughy and hokie, and small squids. Quite the opposite…sperm whales eat giant squid, and many other species of midwater and deep sea squids, some quite small. As an aside, sperm whales that become stranded usually do so because they are of ill. Towing them offshore seldom is successful.

The sucker rings of the largest giant squid are a maximum of 2” in diameter. Any scars larger than that are either old scars that have enlarged somewhat as the whale has grown, but never anywhere as large as 10”.

The figure of 300 feet for a giant squid is certainly a gross overestimate. The largest specimens ever recorded were 60 feet in total length, back in the 19th Century. I have examined over 100 specimens in museums and on beaches all over the world, and the largest I have ever seen was in the 40-45 foot range. Please note that the two long feeding tentacles make up about 2/3 the total length of a GS.

Thank you for passing this on to me. Much appreciated…always willing to get the truth out there concerning our friend, the giant squid.

We have just published a children’s book on the giant squid: “Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster”, by Mary M. Cerullo and Clyde F. E. Roper, 2012. Capstone Press/Smithsonian Press. The target audience is 10-14 years, but all ages will be able to learn something from it.

-Dr. Clyde Roper, Zoologist, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Dr. Roper,

I am an ex Navy submariner who found a whale which had been killed by a giant squid off the coast of Virginia near Virginia Beach. The bite marks from the squids suction rings measured 10 ".