10 Underwater Giants to make you wish you got a bigger boatEveryone knows that iconic line from JAWS:

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I can still remember sitting at home, my face hidden behind a cushion when my mum and dad let me watch it for the first time. I was terrified but I couldn’t keep my eyes from peering around the cushion and staring at the screen. I needed to know more about this incredible giant and all the other monsters of the deep. And BOOM, my fascination was born.

In JAWS, Richard Dreyfuss plays a marine biologist called Hooper. When he goes in the water, even though there’s a massive f**k off shark lurking, I was in awe. I knew I wanted to do that one day.

Since then I have longed to dive exotic reefs, underwater cities and most of all, be dwarfed by the presence of the big blue’s big giants.

Sadly, my measly backpacker budget hasn’t stretched far enough to allow me to cross these life long ambitions off my list – YET.  I dove the Great Barrier Reef and a few reefs off Fiji’s Yasawa Islands though and I fell in love with diving there and then. Diving is my ‘quiet time’, I feel completely relaxed when I’m under the water. The peace is just magic, but a teeny tiny part of me does hope the quiet may be disturbed by a Blue Whale or Great White one of these days… Am I crazy?

10 Underwater Giants to Encounter in your Lifetime

Over the years our world has been home to many incredible giants. Sadly, the mammoths and dinosaurs are now extinct….unless Jurassic Park is actually in the pipeline….you never know. Aside from these big beasties there are still many heavyweights of the animal kingdom walking, swimming and flying their way around planet Earth. Here are 10 of the greatest underwater giants…. Prepare to feel reaaaaally reaaaally small.

 

1. The Great White Shark

The biggest sea creatures in the world - the Great White shark(Source)

The Great White is my personal, all time favorite creature of the deep. It may be a ferocious predator but it’s also one of the world’s most misunderstood species. This could be due to their gory (yet rare) attacks on man, their dead eyes, their 200+ razor sharp teeth… or perhaps it’s all down to the film, JAWS? Either way, the Great White could easily be the most feared of all the underwater giants.

Biggest ever found?

Perhaps surprisingly, female Great White Sharks are more dominant and often far greater in size to the males. There have been lots of questionable measurements when recording the largest Great White ever spotted or sadly, captured. The most reliable source is from Cuba in 1945 when an incredible 21 ft long great white was recorded, weighing in at an impressive 7,328 lb.

Jaws - we're gonna need a bigger boat - ocean giants

Where and when?

Considering this is up there with one of my all time ‘must do’s’, I would choose none other than Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. Rodney Fox is a legend of shark diving and in 1963 he survived the most severe shark attack ever. I know I know, that’s probably not something you want to hear when looking into diving with sharks, but this attack was what started Rodney’s obsession with this intelligent and prehistoric creature. Rodney was actually the architect of the shark cage AND not only that but the live footage from JAWS is thanks to Rodney’s expert knowledge. He actually assisted Speilberg’s film crew out at sea in South Australia. Check Rodney out.

If you want to catch a trip with this legend of a man, Rodney (along with his son) runs his charters out of Port Lincoln on the Eastern tip of Eyre Peninsula, 40 minutes outside of Adelaide. His tours run from September through to May and prices start from AUS$119. (Not bad for a near death experience!)

Another popular location outside of Australia is South Africa’s ‘Shark Alley’ with many companies running cage dives out of Cape Town and surrounding coastal areas.

 

2. The Blue Whale

Biggest sea creatures in the world - The Blue Whale(Source)

Now for the greatest of all underwater giants. The Blue Whale isn’t just the largest creature in the ocean, but it is the largest animal on Earth both past and present. It’s kind of a big deal.

This enormous dweller of the deep is one of the world’s gentle giants, so don’t believe everything you read in books such as Moby Dick and Pinocchio (both of those were Sperm Whales anyway). Blue Whales are known to be docile and calm animals with big hearts. Actually make that enormous hearts, roughly the size of a car and their blood vessels are so large a human could swim through them. Yikes.

Biggest ever found?

The longest whale ever measured came in at a massive 109 foot long. The heaviest has weighed in at a whopping 190 metric tons.

Where and when?

The Blue Whale can be spotted in many places during various months of the year due to their migration routes. Generally speaking the best place to see them is Monterey Canyon, off California. The Whales (along with sharks, and many other marine life) visit these waters in late August/early September to feed off the abundance of krill and sardines.

Another popular place to spot this spectacular species is Sri Lanka during the months of December, January and April.

A lifelong ambition of mine is to swim with a Blue Whale. There is a company called Natural World Safaris who offer such experiences…. if you’re lucky. What an incredible privilege to encounter the world’s largest ever goliath.

 

3. The Alligator

Biggest sea creatures in the world - the pearly whites of the alligator(Source)

These fresh water beasties are found in South East USA and China. Contrary to popular belief, Alligators aren’t as savage as they may look. In fact they often shy away from humans and spend a lot of their day at the waters edge, basking in the sun.

Biggest ever found?

The largest alligator ever recorded was found in Louisiana and measured 19.2 foot long and weighed 992 lb.  The largest crocodile was recently captured in the Phillipines after attacking numerous people and killing 2. It weighed in at 2,370 lb and measured 20.24 feet long.

Where and when?

Alligator spotting takes place all over South East USA and is popular in places such as the Florida Everglades. I have been on numerous Gator spotting trips both on air boats and river cruises. I’d personally recommend St Johns River Cruises which I talked about in my post, Manatees & Alligators in Blue Springs, Florida. Another option if you want to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak) is at Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral. Gators lurk in the marsh land that separates the road to the fence acting as pretty good security. I sure know I wouldn’t mess with ’em.

 

4. Crocodile

the biggest sea creatures crocodile(Source)

Crocodiles are a little more confident than Gators …. You may want Crocodile Dundee around for these guys. These ambush predators are largely found in Africa, South East Asia, Northern Australia and Central America. Salt water and Nile crocs have been the cause of thousands of human fatalities. As an ancestor of the dino age, we should know not to mess.

Biggest ever found?

The largest crocodile was recently captured in the Phillipines after attacking numerous people and killing 2. It weighed in at 2,370 lb and measured 20.24 feet long.

Where and when?

I was due to go Croc spotting in Australia’s Daintree (another great spot!), however the tours were sadly on hold due to a guest thinking it would be a clever idea to hang his arm over the side of the boat…. he found out the hard way that its not such a smart thing to do.

Another great place to check out some Croc’s is in Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. The best time to visit is in the dry season of May-October.

 

5. The Whale Shark

ocean giants(Source)

The Whale and Basking Shark are often confused with many people questioning which is bigger. Well, it is the Whale Shark that is actually the largest extant fish ever, closely followed by the Basking Shark in the number 2 spot.

Biggest ever found?

The largest recorded Whale Shark was 41.50 feet long and weighed in at 47,000 tons.

Where and when?

Whale Sharks are found in tropical waters above 71 degrees fahrenheit. There are numerous places to spot the biggest fish in the sea, but why not go one better. Don’t just spot them but swim with them. The top spots for this include Isla Holbox (Mexico), Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia) and Koh Tao (Thailand).

With numerous hotspots come numerous seasons. I’d check out Lonely Planet for more details if you have your snorkel at the ready and are chomping at the bit to dive with these beauties.

 

6. The Giant Oceanic Manta Ray

The biggest sea creatures - giant oceanic manta Ray(Source)

This is the largest ray in the world and is also a member of the shark family (don’t fancy dinner round there too much). The ray’s swan song is its graceful dance it performs. It sores up and flies out of the water, gliding through the air making itself not just an underwater giant but flying giant too.

Biggest ever found?

The largest Oceanic Manta Rays have measured up to 23 feet and weighed a massive 2,980 lb.

Where and when?

Giant Mantas are found all over the world, but you’re best chance to spot them is off reefs in sub-tropical waters such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Maldives and Hawaii.

If you fancy diving with these big guys then check out www.padi.com.

 

7. The Giant Squid

The biggest sea creatures - giant squid is spotted by a Russian fishing boat

(Source)

This deep sea dwelling squid is a unique looking animal that has been the inspiration for many horror films including (most famously) the Alien series.

These squid are most regularly spotted in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

Biggest ever found?  

In recent years, Russian fisherman captured a monster Giant Squid as it fed off the crew’s catch. The largest Giant Squid ever recorded measured a terrifying 43 foot. Surely that’s the Kraken out of Pirates of the Caribbean? I reckon it’s hiding the Black Pearl down there somewhere.

 

8. The Ocean Sunfish

The biggest sea creatures in the world - the Ocean Sunfish(Source)

The Ocean Sunfish or ‘Mola Mola’ is the heaviest bony fish in the world and can weigh in at over 2,000 lb. These Sunfish eat off jellyfish and the females can produce more eggs than any other vertebrate. Pretty impressive stuff!

Biggest ever found?

The largest Ocean Sunfish was caught off the coast of Japan in 1996 and measured 8.9 feet. It weighed a colossal 5,071 lb. That’s one big fishy.

Where and when?

There aren’t many places that are ideal for spotting or swimming with the mighty Mola Mola, but Bali and the Galapagos Islands are among the best places to try your luck.

 

9. The Orca

The biggest sea creatures in the world - the orcas(Source)

Orcas (also known as Killer Whales) are the largest of the dolphin family and in my opinion, are the most distinctive and beautiful of all the underwater giants. They’re found in all kinds of oceans from the Arctic and Antarctic to more tropical climates. Orcas were made famous by a certain Willy in the awesome childhood classic, Free Willy. (Careful Googling that…there are some non-child-friendly alternatives)

Biggest ever found?  

The largest Killer Whale on record weighed in at 10 tons and a length of 32 feet.

Where and when?

Orca spotting is popular in many places from Iceland to Canada, Alaska and even Scotland. Friends of mine have been on trips to see Orca’s in Alaska, Iceland and Canada however the place I’ve been recommended the most is just off Vancouver Island, Canada.

 

10. The Loch Ness Monster

The biggest sea creatures - the legend of messy the loch ness monster(Source)

In my last Big Blue post, I mentioned the legend that is Atlantis and whether it is real or legend. But what about old Nessie aye?

The Loch Ness Monster is another myth that has never been proved or disproved. Some say Nessie is a descendant from the Dino age and others argue it’s a huge Catfish or Sturgeon (both can get pretty big after all).

Loch Ness is a famous Scottish lake that holds more water than all of the other lakes in England, Scotland and Wales put together… surely that would make for a pretty good hiding place for a mythical monster?

Since the 1960s there has been many supposed sightings of Nessie. The most recent spotting was in 2011.

We can all argue Nessie’s existence from dawn till dusk but unless you’re going to pump the lake dry, we may never know. Anyway, do we really need to know? There’s nothing wrong with a little mystery in this world.

The next time I dive into my Big Blue obsession, I’ll be looking into the Big Blue’s Ghosts of the Ocean Floor. OoOOoo mysterious.

 

  • http://www.traveltipy.com/ Julius @ Traveltipy.com

    Wow, these pictures with The Whale Shark or The Giant Oceanic Manta Ray are just amazing! Would like to try being those divers. 🙂

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hi Julius and thanks for reading the post 🙂
      What an incredible job. Always fancied being a cameraman on an Attenborough programme. Would love to get a few shots like these someday myself. Have you ever seen any of these giants?

      • http://www.traveltipy.com/ Julius @ Traveltipy.com

        I’ve been to the largest Oceanarium in Europe – L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia and the dolphins show was just amazing! But dolphins are not so big! I’ve also been to the Marineland in Spain (Costa Brava) and they also do dolphins shows there! Still amazing experience!

        • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

          Ah cool. I shamefully missed the Oceanarium in Singapore a few years back which is meant to be amazing.

  • http://www.mummytravels.com Cathy Winston

    These are amazing, a few I’ve never heard of. Whale sharks and the rays would definitely top my list, I think great whites and crocs get a more respectful distance!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Cheers, Cathy 🙂
      There is a series called SHARK which has the most amazing finale episode where there are hundreds of whale sharks and Manta Rays migrating to new feeding areas. I’d recommend it and it will definitely keep them at the top of your list 🙂
      Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.loonthego.co.uk/ Leonie

    I loved this post. Im such a fan of marine life, and love the underwater giants.
    Leonie ♥ Lo On The Go

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hi Leonie.
      Thank you so much! Pleased you enjoyed it 🙂
      Me too. Often wish I became a Marine Biologist.
      Have you seen any of these giants before? Or on your ‘to do’ list like me?
      Cheers again.

      • http://www.loonthego.co.uk/ Leonie

        Yes I wanted to be a Marine Biologist when I was younger. Maybe there’s still time.
        Ive seen great whites but the rest are on my to do list
        x

        • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

          Oh wow, well you’ve already ticked off the one I want to see the most. Did you cage dive or see from onboard?

          • http://www.loonthego.co.uk/ Leonie

            Yep one down. I did a cage dive in South Australia. Was amazing.

  • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

    Cheers, Julius.
    Great photos and even an Ocean Sunfish! 🙂 Thanks for sharing

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