Maybe this is not a very original observation. In chapter 87, The Grand Armada, The Pequod and its crew come across a mass of whales. There's a sort of circle of them, inside of which there are mother whales with their babies. It seems like the whales on the perimeter are trying to protect the more vulnerable whales in the centre. I believe other herd animals do this as well, but it seems rather human. Captain Ahab believes Moby Dick has a malign cunning, that his actions are deliberate, that he is not just thrashing about. In another chapter Ahab meets the captain of an English whaler, who lost his arm to Moby Dick. The captain tells Ahab that Moby Dick bit through a harpoon line that had been launched at another whale, as if Moby Dick had tried to save that whale. Captain Ahab thinks so. In that case, if Ahab believes Sperm Whales to be intelligent creatures, who live in communities and look after each other, doesn't that make what they are doing pretty close to murder? They certainly don't doubt their method of hunting the animals is very cruel. I wonder whether Melville was thinking about what the white settlers had been doing to Native Americans. There you had a people who might have seemed rather alien with different beliefs, language and culture. Some Native Americans may have behaved very violently and made themselves feared and hated, but from their point of view they were defending themselves against aggresors. I looked up 'Pequod'. According to Wikipedia, they were a Native American tribe who were wiped out in a war with white settlers and other Native American tribes. Maybe it is not a fair analogy because the white settlers in New England did actually have talks with the local Native Americans, and sometimes made alliances with them, where as we still cannot talk to whales.