News of the U.K. couple’s find of whale vomit sounds disgusting, but you might not think of it as vile once you hear how much this whale vomit might fetch these beachcombers. Whale experts say the whale vomit is more like whale poop because it is actually undigested waste the whale excretes, but if you have to call it vomit or poop, vomit sounds like the lessor of two evils.
So why is this stuff going to fetch this couple a small fortune? First of all it doesn’t resemble excrete of any kind, the whale vomit’s more glamorous name is ambergris and it is extremely rare to find. It looks like a rock, but it has a very waxy texture, reports KTLA News 5 on April 15.
The ambergris is a substance used to make higher-end perfumes because it makes the scent last longer. It is so rare because it is only excreted by sperm whales when they have indigestion, so to find a rock of this stuff is like finding a needle in a hay stack.
This stuff floats so it can literally bounce around on the high seas for a very long time before making its way to land. a mass of ambergris is usually found on the beach and although it looks like a rock, it doesn’t smell like a rock, it kind of stinks! Stinky or not, it is called “floating gold” for a reason. If the mass, seen above, does turn out to be whale vomit, then it is worth about $70,000.
MSN News reports that an expert explains how ambergris can float around undiscovered for years in the water, where it hardens and develops its distinctive odor.” The whale vomit comes from the sperm whale when they have a stomach or throat problem. They eject the substance into the ocean where it hardens over time.
Gary and Angela Williams of the U.K. found what they believe to be the mass of whale vomit along Middleton Sands Beach in the U.K., which is near Morecambe Bay. As they were walking they got a whiff of something very unpleasant and decided to follow the smell.
Their nose led them to the stinky and waxy rock, again- which they believe to be the vomit of a sperm whale that could fetch them some big bucks. Kristopher Kemp, who is the author of “Floating Gold: A Natural an Unnatural History of Ambergris” describes the substance as; “Ambergris feels a little waxy, and smells very complex: a mixture of dung and the ocean, and old wood, and tobacco, and moist earth, and ozone,” Kemp said.
Kemp believes that the mass the Williams couple found is “a little too waxy” and says that it looks more like “animal fat” than it does ambergris. Although the couple is reportedly in negotiations to sell their find with buyers in France and New Zealand, so it sounds as if they must have conformation by now.
Back in 2012 a find on the beach by a U.K. school kid turned out to be 1.3-pound mass of the whale vomit. He found it in the sand and when all was said and done it was worth about $63,000. “Good, high-quality ambergris is worth thousands of dollars per pound,” reports Kemp.
The trade of whale vomit, or ambergris, is banned in the U.S. despite the fact that it isn’t at all harmful to the whales to harvest the substance. It is a floating entity when found and the whale has nothing to do with it anymore. It is banned as part of the effort not to exploit the endangered species.