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Whale oil used to play a huge role in the economic growth of many nations such as the United States, Great 2 Britain, and Germany. "More Big Whales in Ocean Could Mean More Fish, Scientists Find." National Geographic. Luckily, we do not depend on its oil anymore since petroleum becomes the main source to provide fuel.
Whale blubber is another reason that motivates hunters. It is also found in cosmetics, perfumes, and detergents.
In the Yankee whale fishery injuries and death were common to almost every voyage. Few individuals got rich whaling and most of those were owners and agents. It has particular qualities separating it from almost any other type of oil.
The answers to why so many people went whaling are many and varied but the underlying principle is that whale products had a strong commercial value if one knew how to exploit it. One in particular is that it retains its lubricating qualities in extreme temperatures making it ideal for light, rapid machinery.
A byproduct of the sperm oil refining process was high quality soap.
About half of the crude sperm oil obtained by American vessels at the height of the fishery was exported to other countries.