The Sperm Whale is an extremely awkward fish to approach, for at times she uses her mouth (the lower jaw of which is armed with a formidable row of teeth), flukes and tail with terrible effect. There is an instance of a fish destroying three boats and injuring the ship herself, and the ship Essex was actually sunk by a Sperm deliberately charging her twice. A most interesting account of this catastrophe will be found in the ' Century Magazine' for August 1890.

The best way to approach this fish is head on, under sail if possible, as, owing to the position of her eyes, she cannot see well ahead. The other alternative recommended is to approach the whale from behind on the starboard side, so as to give a right-handed dart. The boat, ranging alongside, proceeds parallel to the fish about one to two fathoms, or possibly three or four from her, until far enough forward, when the harpoon is thrown into the back.