Firstly, I’m sorry that this is a rather horrible question to ask!

Would it be possible to keep a whale alive whilst harvesting its fat or blubber? These whales would be living in captivity already and the community keeping them would want to use their fat as a fuel source. However, they would want to keep the whale alive so that it would keep producing fat, which could be harvested on a continuous basis, rather than having to go out and hunt a whale each time they needed more fuel.

Thanks very much!

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What are they feeding the whales with and why don't they just use that as the fuel source? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Jun 24, 2018 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ So basically sustainable whale liposuction. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 24, 2018 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ An excellent world-building related question! A reminder to all VTCers: your Mods have spoken --- questions regarding real world stuff are on-topic. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jun 25, 2018 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Willk I don't know how to make liposuction sustainable, liposuction produces scar tissue so you can't do it over and over. At most your doubling or tripling the fat you get from each whale and you get some before you have to kill it. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 25, 2018 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ @TimB That one's kinda easy to answer. The whale's food can't be burnt (like plankton) but by feeding the whale, the whale converts non-burnable material into burnable material. $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2018 at 4:42

3 Answers 3


Yes you could liposuction them but why would you? Suddenly you need to feed said whales.

"A blue whale eats up to 3,600 kg (8,000 lb.) of krill each day for about 120 days. It is estimated to take 1,000 kg (2,200 lb.) of food to fill a blue whale's stomach. Gray whales eat about 150,000 kg (340,000 lb) of food during a 130 to 140 day feeding period - a daily average intake of about 1,089 kg (2,400 lb.)."

So suddenly instead of hunting whales, you're fishing even more to try and keep the whales fed.

If you rended down the tonnes and tonnes of krill needed, you'd have more oil than what you can collect from the whale anyway.

The whole point of whale hunting is the whales go get the krill themselves and you only have to get the whale.

  • $\begingroup$ This right here. If whale fat was the only way forward, a real conservation effort around it would be through licensed hunts and ecology preservation. $\endgroup$
    – Nohbdy
    Jun 25, 2018 at 11:07

Yes, if you have technology somewhat equivalent to Star Trek transporters you could probably find a way to remove fat from the whales without harming them. There would definately be a limit to how much fat you could take, so you might have to feed the whales a lot so they become very fat - or would if you didn't take away some of their fat.

I remember an old science fiction story where a fat man looked slender because he kept all his fat in a suitcase, kept alive and connected to his body somehow, maybe with wormholes or something. Someone though he must have had a treasure in the suitcase he guarded so carefully and stole it.


You milk the whale. A female whale, obviously. Whale milk is up to 50% fat. Then you boil the milk (or let it sit in the hot sun) to drive off some of the water and increase the fat content even more.

You still have the problems of feeding the whale, and she'll only produce milk when she has a calf.


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