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‘Whale Vomit’ Potentially Worth $70,000

  • VOA News

FILE - Ambergris is a very rare, highly valuable substance used in the perfume industry.

FILE - Ambergris is a very rare, highly valuable substance used in the perfume industry.

A stinky “rock” found by a British couple who were taking a stroll on the beach in northwest England could be worth up to $70,000.

Many are calling the rock “whale vomit,” but in fact it’s ambergris, a valuable substance used to make perfume keep its fragrance longer on the skin.

“Ambergris is definitely not vomit,” Christopher Kemp, author of “Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris,” told CNN. “It’s more like poop, and it comes from the same place as poop, but it’s only made by a small percentage of sperm whales, as a result of indigestion.”

Kemp added that 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.”

Gary Williams, who found the 1.57 kilogram rock on a beach near Morecambe Bay with his wife, Angela, described the smell as "distinctive... like a cross between squid and farmyard manure.”

Ambergris goes by the nickname “floating gold” because it can float for decades before eventually washing ashore.

Ambergris is so rare that Kemp is dubious that what the Williams found is actually the real thing. However, if it does turn out to be real floating gold, it could fetch as much as $70,000.

According to CNN, in 2012, a British schoolboy found a .6-kilogram piece of ambergris and was paid $63,000 for it.

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