Rogue Sperm Whales

From: Pieter Folkens (
Date: Fri Mar 28 2003 - 03:47:36 EST

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    > I am doing a paper over the novel "In The Heart Of The Sea:
    > The Tragedy Of The Whaleship Essex" which is about a sperm whale that
    > rams the ship.  That is not a usual thing for a sperm whale to do. 
    > Are sperm whales aggressive?  Are they easily provoked?  Would a sperm
    > whale attack a ship if another sperm whale was being attacked by the
    > whale hunters?  I think it was an act of God.  Do you think the same? 
    > Could you give me some information on sperm whales that will prove
    > that they are gentle creatures and not usually aggresive as in the
    > book, please?  Thank you for your time. 
    > Please write me back at
    > Once again thank you.
    > Sean Harris

    Rogue sperm whales have been known for hundreds of years. In the early
    19th century several were known to whalers and were given names. Herman
    Melville's book, Moby Dick, was based in part on the sinking of the
    Essex (from the first-hand account: The Narrative of the Most
    Extraordinary and Distressing Ship-wreck of the Whale Ship Essex,
    published by Owen Chase in 1821) and the account by J.N. Reynolds Mocha
    Dick: or the white whale of the Pacific: A leaf from a Manuscript
    Journal, published in The Knickerbocker, New York Monthly Magazine Vol.
    13, No. 5, May 1839.

    Other named rogue bull sperm whales include: Paita Tom (off northern
    Peru), New Zealand Tom (off New Zealand), Timor Tom (Indonesia), New
    Zealand Jack, Morquan (off Japan) and Don Miguel (off Chile).

    Here's a quote about sperm whales from Melville's Mody Dick (chapter
    "Yet as late the Sperm Whale Fishery has been marked by various and not
    unfrequent instances of great ferocity, cunning, and malice in the
    monster attacked; therefore, it was, that those who by accident
    ignorantly gave battle to Moby Dick; such hunters, perhaps, for the
    most part, were content to ascribe the peculiar terror he bred, more as
    it were, to the perils of the Sperm Whale Fishery at large, . . ."

    Yes, sperm whales -- especially rogue males -- can be aggressive.

    Sperm whales are wild creatures and are not gentle creatures like
    fluffy bunnies or poodles. The males are sexually dimorphic (larger
    than females) and compete with other males for access to the harems.

    By the way, the book is a nonfiction discription of an actual event.

    Sorry to dispel your opinion of these creatures, but that's the way it
    is in nature.


    Pieter Folkens

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