Sperm Whale Stoicism

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During their recent episode of the VALUE: After Hours Podcast, Taylor, Brewster, and Carlisle discussed Sperm Whale Stoicism. Here’s an excerpt from the episode:

Jake: [laughs] All right. This little segment is called Sperm Whale Stoicism. I don’t know if you guys know a whole lot about sperm whales, but they’re pretty incredible creatures. They breathe oxygen just like we do. But they’re able to hold their breath for up to 120 minutes. A typical dive for them will be a 35-minute hunt. They’d go crazy deep into the ocean. They’ll go down routinely 2000 or 3000 feet. The deepest measurements been 1.2 miles, which is over 6000 feet.

Tobias: 1.2 mile is deep.

Jake: They’re huge. Deep, yeah. [crosstalk] Well, they would for us.

Bill: Yes, they would. You’d get the bends coming up, for sure.

Jake: All right, we’ll get to that. Their average size is 16 meters, which is like 52 feet. The average weight is about 50 tons. They’ve measured some that are way 80 tons. They eat about 3% of their body weight every single day. It’s estimated that they eat about 91 million tons per year of seafood. It’s usually fish and squid.

Tobias: Lucky bastards.

Jake: Well, humans as a species, we eat 115 million tons, so they’re not that far off from what we eat. Obviously, their numbers are quite a bit smaller because that’s doing-

Tobias: I’m doing my part.

Jake: -3% of your body weight– Yeah, put on over that. That’s like 1200 pounds a day of food that you’re eating. What’s amazing too, is they have they use echolocation to hunt because when you’re down a mile deep, there’s no sunlight down there, it’s pitch black. They’re able to use this clicking inside of their head and it’s crazy loud. The loudest animal on earth. It’s 230 decibels, this clicking sound, louder than a jet engine. They can live for 70 years or more. If you want some facts on their gestation, it’s kind of funny. They gestate 14 to 16 months, then the females will give birth every 4 to 20 years. They’ll lactate for up to 42 months, but some have even been measured up to 13 years, like the baby’s still eating from the– [crosstalk] Those are the real Buster Bluths of the whale world.

Anyway, let’s get a little bit deeper and put ourselves, shrink ourselves and go inside of the whale when it starts to dive. Typically, they’ll hyperventilate up on the surface for about eight minutes between dives. What they’re doing is reoxygenating their system. If we shrink ourselves down and go inside and think about the pressure that’s happening. When you dive down, they use oxygen just we do to power their muscles. When they start diving, the pressure builds. For every 33 feet of water, there’s a column of water on top of you, that’s one atmosphere additionally, or about 15 psi. By the time you get down to half a mile below surface, you’re at 80 atmospheres, that’s like 1200 psi squishing you. If you imagine the little alveoli, the little folds in the lungs that we have than they have, if you have that much pressure, it crushes their body in such a way that their lungs collapse into 1% of their normal size when they’re up on the top side.

What the problem is, is that when you do that, that forces so much oxygen and nitrogen into your bloodstream through the tissue inside your lungs, when you come back up, that nitrogen then bubbles out of your blood and destroys all your cells. That’s what the bends are. It’s nitrogen coming up, dissolving out of your blood. Mother Nature came up with this evolution to solve this problem. What she did was the whales when they started diving, they shut off their alveoli completely, so they don’t– it’s not like they take a big gulp of air and then go under. Instead what they do is that they store all the oxygen locally inside of their body– or inside of their muscles. They have 2 times the haemoglobin density as humans and 10 times as much the myoglobin, which is the little protein inside your muscles that help oxygen move around. They store all the oxygen within their muscles before they go dive, so it’s not really a lung thing. They shut the lungs off. To really like torture this analogy, other than just it’s fun to learn–

Tobias: Find your way back, JT. Find your way back.

Bill: Yeah. Where are we going with this? I do like it. It’s very interesting.

Jake: I’m a mile under right now. If we go on our own little hunt a deep dive researching a company, if you have to have other people’s reassurances continually. That’s sort of like breathing air on the top side. Being able to shut that off and having enough internal mettle and an internal sense of your self-worth, like the oxygen of yourself worth, storing that internally, and not having to exchange it with the outside, I think, allows you to go places and do things that maybe someone would say seems impossible. There’s a stoicism to keeping your own mind in a way that they store oxygen locally and don’t have to get it– don’t have to get self-assurance externally from other people. Very tortured, barely got it back over the finish line.

Tobias: You need a lot of that as value guy in this market. Put on a strong self-image, stored likely in the muscles.

Jake: It’s okay to come back topside and interact with people and get recharged. But then, when you go back to hunting, shut off the lungs, get everyone else’s brain, everyone else’s voices out of your head and focus on the primary things for you.

Tobias: I like it.

Bill: That said, I want to thank everybody that listens to us that writes with their best idea. Shoutout to all you.

Jake: [laughs]

Bill: I am for sourcing ideas among others. Don’t take this as– we don’t listen when you write, we do. Yeah, I agree with you.

Jake: You want to do your own work, though.

Bill: Oh, 100%.

Jake: You don’t want to have the influence too much of other people when it comes to pre-assessing the facts for yourself.

Bill: Yeah, for sure. Except for on meme stocks, which you obviously buy based on the quality of the meme.

Jake: Correct.

Bill: You have to assess the meme through your own lens. You don’t ask other people how good the meme is.

Jake: That’s fair. That’s the new edge.

Bill: Yes, that is the new edge.

Jake: Meme analysis.

Bill: Yeah.

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