"Bailing in the case " of a sperm whale Drawing
by H. W. Elliott from a French lithograph designed by B. Russell.
The first whalers must have hardly believed their
luck when they at first discovered beached sperm whales and later on
caught sperm whales at sea. The spermaceti obtained from sperm whales
required no processing from the blubber as from other whales and it
was present in such quantities that the whalers could stand knee deep
or more in it and bail it out with buckets. The part of the head that
contained the best oil was called the "case" and the process of getting
the oil out as "bailing the case".
This was initially done outboard as in this illustration
by a man with a bucket on the end of a rope, later on the sperm whale's
head was brought on board intact and the baling happened onboard which
was safer for the men involved and also meant less loss of the oil.
Image courtesy NOAA