Sizing Ocean Giants

On January 16, 2015

Marine_megafauna_Infographic-600x422My 70 page, 40 figure, 200+ reference tome on body of all the largest marine megafauna is out.
McClain, C.R., M.A. Balk, M.C. Benfield, T.A. Branch, C. Chen, J. Cosgrove, A. Dove, L.C. Gaskins, R.R. Helm, F.G.E. Hochberg,, F.B. Lee, S.E. McMurray, C. Schanche, S.N. Stone, and A.D. Thaler (2015) Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna. PeerJ 2:e715; DOI 10.7717/peerj.715

A little background on the project and publication can be found at the Story of Size blog and in the Toronto Star.  Peer J kindly developed infographics for the paper (see above and available as PDF or JPEG).

The response to the paper has been overwhelming.  As of writing this post, the number of view of the paper is 18,899 and downloads is 1,005.   The Altmetric score above show just how widespread and large the online impact through social media.  The coverage has been so large that the in terms of sharing through social media the paper in just its first three days after publication already ranks in the top 1% of all papers and the 4th highest of all papers published by PeerJ.  Below the whale shark is a list of all the press coverage that currently numbers over 65 media outlets.

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Sizing Ocean Giants Press

All the press on McClain et al. (2015)

Accurate Size of Largest Sea Creatures Revealed @ MSN
We humans like to tell tall tales. Literally. When people—even scientists—record and communicate the size of various animals, they tend to exaggerate the beasts’ size. Looking to set the record straight, scientists have put together a comprehensive survey of past studies and verifiable documentation to determine the accurate size of a range of marine animals, from crabs to whales. They found that in many cases that the alleged record size for a species was significantly larger than anything that could be scientifically validated
Accurate Size of Largest Sea Creatures Revealed @ Newsweek
We humans like to tell tall tales. Literally. When people—even scientists—record and communicate the size of various animals, they tend to exaggerate the beasts’ size. Looking to set the record straight, scientists have put together a comprehensive survey of past studies and verifiable documentation to determine the accurate size of a range of marine animals, from crabs to whales. They found that in many cases that the alleged record size for a species was significantly larger than anything that could be scientifically validated.
Der Kalmar ist gar kein Riese @ Frankfurter Allgemeine Wissen
Ein mehr als zwanzig Meter langer Walhai, ein 19 Meter langer Riesenkalmar: Das klingt gewaltig. Doch so gigantisch sind die großen Tiere der Meere einer neuen Studie zufolge gar nicht.
Giant Squid and Whale Sharks Aren't As Big As People Think @ Live Science
When it comes to determining the size of giant squid and other large sea animals, humans have a tendency to exaggerate, a new study suggests.
Giant Squid and Whale Sharks Not as Big as People Think @ Scientific American
When it comes to determining the size of giant squid and other large sea animals, humans have a tendency to exaggerate, a new study suggests.
How Big Are The Biggest Squid, Whales, Sharks, Jellyfish? @ National Geographic
McClain decided to put together a scientific paper that would accurately answer a simple yet slippery question: How big do the biggest animals in the ocean get? The oceans are home to giants: blue whales and great white sharks; giant squids and giant clams; elephant seals and Japanese spider crabs. These creatures have no trouble capturing the public imagination, but scientists often have trouble capturing them. Many are rare, elusive, or live in inaccessible parts of the sea. Some are only measured when they wash ashore, after dry land distends or deflates their bodies. Some are so big that they are just plain hard to measure. And so, oceans are also home to exaggeration.
HOW BIG DO OCEAN ‘GIANTS’ REALLY GET? @ Futurity
How do you measure the tentacles of the largest jellyfish? How about determining the length of the largest whales? It’s tough. Many of the world’s largest megafauna are few in number, tricky to find, and logistically hard to measure or weigh. We know surprisingly little about the maximum sizes these species can reach, though popular culture might say otherwise.
Just How Big Are the Biggest Sea Monsters, Really? @ Mother Board
Just How Big Are the Biggest Sea Monsters, Really?
JUST HOW GIANT ARE THE OCEAN'S GIANTS? @Earth Touch
A blue whale is as long as 16 school buses, or something like that. The most giant of the giant clams was 18 metres across. Southern elephant seals are enormous, but well, not as enormous as oarfish. From the biggest whale sharks to the toothiest great whites, the ocean is full of mysteries and tall tales (get it? you get it), but which marine myths hold up and which are mainly nonsense? Until now, it's been hard to know for sure.
Lion's mane jellyfish and giant octopus: How big sea monsters really are @ International Business Times
Records from the 1800s suggest giant squid can grow up to 60ft in length – almost two double decker buses – but this is not the case, researchers have said. What is far more monstrous is the lion's mane jellyfish, which reaches 120ft – far longer than the blue whale or any other known creature of the deep. Scientists at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre in North Carolina analysed the body size of 25 marine species in a bid to challenge the exact measurements in comparison to human bias towards larger individuals.
Sizing up giants under the sea: Team corrects inaccuracies, elucidates measurements for 25 marine species @ PhysOrg
A team of scientists and undergraduate students have analyzed the body size for 25 marine species, including whales, sharks, squids, and other ocean giants. The project elucidates both the challenges of arriving at exact measurements and the human bias toward larger individuals.
The 10 Longest Animals in the Ocean-Discovery News
There are a lot of fish tales about ocean animal sizes, but a new study clarifies what the maximum documented body length is for some of the biggest marine species. The official measurements, presented in the latest issue of the journal PeerJ, show that most data online is way off. Frequently people see a shark or other big marine-dwelling beast, such as the giant ocean manta ray shown here, and over estimate by a wide margin.
The Real Size of Underwater Giants @ Mental Floss
You think you know how big the animals in our oceans can get, but you're probably wrong. Craig McClain, assistant director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina, was inspired to write a paper on the prevalence of faulty information about the size of different sea creatures when, a few years ago, he "noticed that people kept saying that giant squids reached 60 feet in length, which is amazingly long." McClain adds, "When I started actually looking at the data, I found that that estimate was actually quite unrealistic." The paper, Sizing Ocean Giants: Patterns of Intraspecific Size Variation in Marine Megafauna, is available now at PeerJ.
This chart of sea-dwelling giants will make you feel tiny @ The Washington Post
Researchers have put together a chart comparing the sizes of the largest creatures in the ocean, and the results are pretty humbling for a puny human. The chart is an illustration for a paper published Tuesday in PeerJ in which biologists analyzed all available information to accurately estimate the sizes of these beasts.
This Is How Big The Ocean's Most Gigantic Creatures Can Really Get @ io9
The gigantic sea creatures swimming in our oceans depths can reach incredible sizes. But new research suggests that we've been wrong for years about the actual sizes animals like the Great White Shark, the Giant Squid, and the walrus can reach. Let's set the record straight. Lead author on the new paper, Craig McClain, assistant director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, explained in a statement that the project was sparked by seeing the length of the giant squid listed as up to 60 feet. But his research yielded an actual measurement of closer to 40 feet maximum.
Vermessung großer Tiere: Forscher schrumpfen Meeresgiganten @ Spiegel
Die Größenangaben vieler Meeresgiganten sind offenbar nicht selten übertrieben. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt eine internationale Gemeinschaftsstudie, die im Fachblatt "PeerJ" erschienen ist. Die Forscher nahmen insgesamt 25 Arten unter die Lupe, darunter den Blauwal, den Riesenkalmar und den Weißen Hai, und glichen die bekannten Größenangaben der Arten mit unterschiedlichsten Datenbanken und historischen Aufzeichnungen ab. Zudem prüften sie Exemplare aus Museen, tauschten sich mit anderen Forschern aus und schauten sogar, ob Tiere über die Internetplattform Ebay verkauft wurden, um deren Größe zu erfahren. In ihre Studie flossen nur Angaben ein, die wissenschaftlich belegt waren - und auf diese Weise verloren einige der Meeresriesen deutlich an Größe.
Y la criatura más grande de los océanos es... @ABC.es
Investigadores corrigen inexactitudes y aclaran las mediciones de las más gigantescas especies marinas de las que se tienen registros. Hay sorpresas

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