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.
"Precise, accurate, and quantified measurements matter at both a philosophical and pragmatic level," said lead author Craig McClain. "Saying something is approximately 'this big,' while holding your arms out won't cut it, nor will inflating how large some of these animals are."
McClain, who is the assistant director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C., and his team obtained their information about body lengths from published scientific papers as well as from fisheries, marine centers, other scientists and additional sources.
The giant ocean manta ray came in at number 10 on the list, with a maximum body length of 22.96 feet.