A man taking a stroll on a beach in Morecambe, Lancashire didn’t know what his dog had found when the black and white boxer took a keen interest in a large, smelly, yellowish lump that looked like a rock.
According to the Jan. 31, Mirror, the man, unemployed Ken Wilman, with his boxer Madge, had stumbled upon a six pound chunk of ambergris commonly known as whale vomit while on a walk.
Wilman said “I couldn’t understand why Madge was so interested in it. It smelled horrible.”
The out-of-work Wilman went home and searched the internet for information on the yellow glob. The search revealed that it was ambergris – a substance expelled from sperm whales which is used as an ingredient in expensive perfumes.
Wilman said that when he realized how much it could be worth, he went back and grabbed it.
“It is like walking on the beach and finding a bag of £50,000 in cash," Wilman said.
Chris Hill, curator at the Aquarium of the Lakes in Newby Bridge, Cumbria, said, “How much it’s worth will depend on how fresh it is, but it’s potentially $180,000.”
Although ambergris is frequently called whale vomit, it is found in the fecal matter of sperm whales. Only when ambergis forms a mass too large to be passed through the intestines is it expelled from the whale’s mouth.
Ambergis is still used as an ingredient in perfumes around the world.
Robert Clarke, in The Origins of Ambergis wrote, “Unique, illusive of precise description,the odour of ambergris has been said to suggest fine tobacco, the wood in old churches, sandalwood, the smell of the tide, fresh earth, and fresh seaweed in the sun. I myself am reminded of Brazil nuts.”
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