Imagine going for a walk along the beach, something you do on a regular basis. But, on this occasion, you stumble across something smelly that promises to change you life. This is what happened to a couple in Lancashire, UK. They found a valuable piece of ambergris, which is commonly known as whale vomit.
Couple Finds Ambergris
Gary, 48, and Angela, 49, hail from Lancashire in the United Kingdom. They frequently take strolls along Middleton Sands beach near Morecambe Bay. This is a less popular stretch of beach that fewer people visit. They smelled something peculiar, and sure enough, they found the ambergris. Gary, an engineer, remembered an article he had read about this ocean find, and how valuable they can be. So, they sacrificed a scarf to wrap it up and take it home.
After weighing it, they were shocked to find it was 1.57kg, which is 3,46 pounds. To put it into perspective, it is about the size of a rugby ball. The excitement grew because they remembered another piece of ambergris found in 2013 was valued at £120,000. That is enough to change someone’s life.
In an interview, Gary said, “Though it smells awfully nasty. It has a very distinct smell that is similar to a cross between manure from a farm and squid,” said Gary. He then explained what it feels like to the touch. “It has the texture of a really hard rubber ball. It has a waxy, candle-like feel. Wax sticks to your fingers when you contact it.” He then added, “If it is valuable, it will go a long way toward helping us purchase a static caravan. A dream come true, that is.”
Why Is It So Valuable?
Ambergris, often referred to as “floating gold,” is a rare and highly prized substance derived from the gastrointestinal tract of sperm whales. This intriguing and enigmatic material has captured the fascination of both perfumers and collectors for centuries due to its unique qualities. Valued for its distinct aroma-enhancing properties, ambergris serves as a fixative in the world of perfumery, helping fragrances last longer and mature over time. Its intricate scent profile, characterized by a blend of earthy, marine, and sweet notes, adds depth and complexity to perfumes, making it an essential ingredient in luxury fragrances.
The scarcity of ambergris is a significant factor contributing to its high value. Sperm whales, the primary source of this precious substance, produce ambergris as a reaction to the irritation in the lining of their intestines caused by indigestible items in their diet, such as squid beaks. Over time, the mass is expelled by the whale and floats on the ocean’s surface, where it undergoes a natural aging process, transforming its scent and texture. Due to the rarity of finding intact pieces of ambergris, the substance has become a symbol of exclusivity and luxury within the fragrance industry.
Other Ambergris Discoveries
Throughout history, remarkable discoveries of ambergris have been made, further fueling its allure. In 2016, three fisherman from Omen stumbled upon a 176 pound lump of ambergris worth an estimated $3 million.
Another group of fishermen in Yemen who live in an impoverished community found another piece of ambergris in 2021. This piece of floating gold was valued at $1.5 million and they use the money to uplift their fellow community members. People used the money to build houses and cars.
These extraordinary finds highlight the unpredictable nature of ambergris sightings and the potential for significant financial gains. As demand for unique and high-quality fragrances continues to thrive, the allure of ambergris remains as captivating as ever, making it a true treasure of the oceans.
- “Couple stunned after stumbling across chunk of WHALE VOMIT on beach – and it could be worth £50,000.” Mirror UK. Sophie Evans. April 12, 2016.
- “Lump of Whale Vomit Set to Make British Couple Thousands.” Newsweek. Lucy Clarke Billings. April 14, 2016.