This page in our guide to Void Bastards will teach you how to act during encounters with whales on the nebula map. Don't ignore them - these creatures can devour your ship.
Types of living creatures on the nebula map
Void Whales are the most dangerous. They can devour small ships, including your S.T.E.V.
Whales make their move alternately with you. You don't have to worry that they will get close to your ship immediately after they appear on the map.
If you and a Void Whale are on the same field, the creature will devour your S.T.E.V. ship - this kills your character automatically. However, there are ways of defending yourself from a Void Whale (check Killing a whale section).
Besides Void Whales, you can also encounter a Junk Squid. They aren't a threat to your ship, however, these creatures devour locations (other ships that can be explored). This means that you can lose a chance of exploring locations with valuable loot.
Use Warp Key if you have a location you really want to explore. That item allows you to jump to any location during a single turn.
Killing a whale
You can defeat whales only when you have torpedoes. You can check that in the STATUS window (see the picture above). Torpedoes work automatically - you don't have to click anything. A whale will be attacked right after you both get on the same field.
For more details, check How to get torpedoes? chapter.
Running away from a Void Whale
This method requires some planning. If a Void Whale is patrolling the upper part of the map, choose the locations at the bottom. Don't fly towards the creature.
Warp Keys are also useful here - thanks to them you can "teleport" to any place on the map. Use them to go past a Void Whale - it won't be able to turn right to start chasing you.