In 1820, the fishing vessel Essex was sunk, leaving the remaining crew to face the elements in life boats. Drifting for many days, these men would later tell rescuers that their ship was damaged by a large, aggressive sperm whale. According to them this creature intentionally charged at and rammed the Essex.
The story caused a sensation during the early 19th century. It inspired the iconic novel Moby-Dick. There was even a semi-fictionalised book written about the ship called In the Heart of the Sea released in 2000.
In 2015, this book was adapted into an action adventure film directed by Ron Howard. The majority of the narrative focuses on the seasoned first mate who has to deal with an inexperienced captain. It is implied that this was one of the key reasons for the Essex being sunk. This story is book-ended with Herman Melville interviewing the last surviving member of the crew.
This version of the encounter portrays the whale as an albino creature. The decision to change the look of it was likely in order to tie in further with the whale described in Moby-Dick.