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Squid Predators: Whales, Sharks, Sea Birds & More

Squids are the primary food source of many predators. Sperm whales are among the main squid killers. Others include albatrosses, sharks, seals, billfish, and orcas. They are also highly cannibalistic and show no hesitation when hunting for other squids.

Squids share a large number of their predators with octopuses. The difference is that squids are often a primary food source for other animals, while octopuses aren’t. 

Squids are similar to octopuses in that they are predators themselves but often act as prey when sensing danger. This is because even the colossal squid isn’t safe against the largest predators of the oceans.

This article covers the many squid predators of the marine world and beyond. We take a look at fishes, birds, and mammals that include squid in their diet.

Here is a list of the seven main squid predators:

  1. Sperm whale
  2. Shark
  3. Seal
  4. Albatross
  5. Billfish
  6. Orca
  7. Squid

1. Sperm Whale

Sperm Whales

As one of the largest marine predators, sperm whales attack even the largest squids. One of the favorite prey animals of sperm whales is squid.

Scientific NamePhyseter macrocephalus
HabitatAtlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
Average Size53 feet
Average Weight90,390 pounds (male)

Sperm whales are enormous in size and weigh considerably more than squids. There aren’t many animals that stand a chance once they are in the mouth of a sperm whale. Sperm whales are the greatest squid hunters, as they almost entirely feed on squids.[1]

Similarly to octopuses, squids are also consumed by these huge beasts, although to a higher degree. The giant squids can grow as long as 43 feet, which is still no match to the sperm whale’s 53 feet.

The biggest mismatch is in weight. Colossal squids can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, but sperm whales’ body mass can be as high as 90,390 pounds. As sperm whales consume about three percent of their body weight per day, eating two colossal squids satisfies their demands. 

The only saving grace for squids is their slightly higher speed. Sperm whales swim at 23 mph, while the fastest squids reach 24 mph.

2. Shark


Sharks prey on all kinds of squids. The largest sharks may go for the biggest squids, but they more frequently prey on smaller individuals.

Scientific NameSelachimorpha
HabitatEvery ocean and sea, down to 12,100 feet
DietCarnivore (majority)
Average Size6.7 inches–40 feet
Average Weight2–20,000 pounds

Sharks are among the most fearsome predators in the marine world. They hunt fish, dolphins, seals, octopuses, and squids.[2]

Although sharks do eat squids, the predatory relationship goes both ways. Larger squids often hunt smaller or young sharks, while large sharks do the same with small squids. 

Colossal squids and great whites are relatively evenly matched, but the great white edges it with its weight advantage and its incredibly strong bite (4,000 PSI).

The largest squid consumer among sharks is the hammerhead shark.

3. Seal


Seals are semi-aquatic carnivorous marine mammals that feast on squids. The largest seals are heavier than the heaviest squids, but they rarely hunt for bigger individuals.

Scientific NamePinnipedia
HabitatWaters and shores north of the Tropic of Cancer, south of the Tropic of Capricorn
Average Size3.25–16 feet
Average Weight99–7,100 pounds

Seals are diverse creatures, but almost all seal species primarily feed on fish. Apart from these, they occasionally go for crustaceans, smaller mollusks, and squids.[3]

Research shows that seals usually catch fish closer to the seabed. As octopuses living in greater depths tend to be larger, seals usually avoid them. If seals find smaller octopuses near the shore, they are more than capable of killing and eating them.

4. Albatross


Albatrosses are large pelagic birds wandering the oceans and diving deep for squids. As birds, they need to be light, so they never go for the larger individuals.

Scientific NameDiomedeidae
HabitatSouth to the Tropic of Capricorn (excluding the Antarctic circle), north to the Tropic of Cancer (only the Pacific Ocean, excluding the Arctic circle
Average Size4.6 feet long, up to 12 feet wingspan
Average Weight15.5 pounds

With the largest wingspan in the bird kingdom, albatrosses can cover huge distances above the ocean. Some albatross species’ diet almost exclusively consists of surface-dwelling squids.[4]

Some albatrosses are known to catch deep-sea dwelling squids. These tend to be bigger and rarely go near the surface. Albatrosses are lighter than large squids and only hunt near the water’s surface. This suggests that some squid species that are known to live deeper may live closer to the surface than thought.

Apart from albatrosses, other pelagic birds hunt squids as well:

  • Penguins
  • Pelicans
  • Seagulls
  • Petrels
  • Jaegers

5. Billfish


Billfish are a diverse group of apex predators characterized by long, sharp pointed bills. They feed on crustaceans, fish, and cephalopods, including squids.

Scientific NameXiphiidae, Istiophoridae
HabitatMainly tropical and subtropical oceans
Average Size10–16 feet
Average WeightUp to 1,800 pounds

The two groups of billfish include sailfish and marlin (Istiophoridae), and swordfish (Xiphiidae). These huge, fearsome predators sit on the top of the food chain and mainly feed on fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods.[5]

Although billfish prefer smaller prey (one to two pounds) they are known to go for larger animals from time to time. They prefer warmer, shallower waters, where they mostly meet smaller squid. They use their sharp bills to slash at their prey, which easily cuts through the soft, boneless body of the squid.

Apart from billfish, other carnivorous fishes include squid in their diet:

  • Salmon
  • Barracudas
  • Tuna
  • Sunfish
  • Belugas

6. Orca


Orcas can be found in nearly every ocean and sea. They eat any and every animal they can. Squids are no exception, as even the largest ones are no match for orcas.

Scientific NameOrcinus orca
HabitatAll oceans and seas, except northern and secluded seas (like the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea)
Average Size16–23 feet (female)
Average Weight6,614–8,819 pounds (female)

There is no surprise that orcas feed on squids. Knowing their extremely volatile hunting habits, it would be more surprising if they didn’t.[6]

As apex predators, even smaller orcas massively outweigh colossal squids. Although the largest giant squids are generally bigger, their size consists mainly of their tentacles. Orcas are pure heavyweight killers.

Orcas also swim faster than squids, at 28 mph. Their intelligence is also a match for squids.

7. Squid

How Many Tentacles Does Squids Have

Squids are highly cannibalistic. It is common for squids of the same species to attack and eat each other.

Scientific NameSpirulida, Myopsida, Oegopsida
HabitatOceans and seas all around the World
Average SizeMost squids 24 inches, largest are up to 43 feet long
Average WeightMost squids 7 ounces, heaviest weigh up to 1,500 pounds

Squids are their own greatest enemies. Each species exhibits cannibalistic behavior, although some species are more willing. The most prone species to cannibalism are the Gonatus onyx and Gonatus berryi.[7]

Most squids attack smaller individuals, so the colossal squid is at the top of this internal food chain. It doesn’t matter either if they are of the same species, as squids will attack their own if they are hungry enough.

An important process called senescence is thought to exist to combat that. Squids (and some cephalopods) die after reproduction most likely to prevent them from eating their eggs and offspring.


The main predators of squids include sperm whales, sharks, orcas, billfish, albatross, and seals. Apart from these animals, other pelagic birds and carnivorous fish feed upon squids. Sperm whales and albatross almost exclusively eat squids.

Squids are known to be cannibalistic. The largest squids eat the smaller squids. All individuals may also attack members of their own species.


How Do Squids Defend Themselves?

Squids defend themselves with ink squirting, camouflage, and venom. Squids can squirt ink when they sense danger to confuse predators. They can change color to blend in with their surroundings. Most cephalopods deliver a venomous bite, although squid venom isn’t strong enough to kill.

What Do Squids Eat?

Squids eat fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. They are carnivores that hunt by either searching for smaller animals or ambushing them. Squids are opportunistic predators and may attack any other animal than their normal prey. They also eat other squids.

Do Humans Eat Squid?

Yes, humans eat squid. Squids are integral parts of the cuisine of countries such as Japan, South Korea, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In English, the culinary name for squids is calamari, which is the name for the animal itself in Spanish and Italian.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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