Sandworms on Dune

While whales were hunted for their oil, ambergris, bone, meat, and baleen, sandworms on Dune were different in that they must be perserved in order for man to benefit from their cultivation of spice and their release of oxygen. This was a very important element in the novel because everyone living on Dune was dependent on both the spice and oxygen. Without the sandworms, Dune's people would have died.

Because the sandworms were so important Dune must remain a desert planet and the Fremen understood this. In the apendix Frank Herbert further explains the ecological process by which spice is made:

"Now they had the circular relationship: little maker to pre-spice mass; little maker to shai-hulud to scatter the spice upon which fed microscopic creatures called sand plankton; the sand plankton, food for shai-hulud, growing, burrowing, becoming little makers" (497).

At first settlers of the planet Dune feared the sandworms and killed them without realizing the importance sandworms had to their own survival. This is similar to what tribal cultures did in killing whales simply for their size. Later on whale hunting was restricted once man realized the enviornmental and cultural importance of the whale. Similarily the Freman of Dune began to incorporate the sandworm into their culture as well. One example of this is the coming of age ceremony where Paul must ride a maker in order to become a man within their society.