Whale vomit discovery, aka ambergris

Whale vomit discovery, aka ambergris

A British couple finds a $20,000 chunk of ambergris the size of a rugby ball. Their lucky day!

In beauty products there is no shortage of weird ingredients. Our particular favourite (obviously) has to be ambergris, aka whale vomit. Luxurious, right?

Ambergris, the bile secreted from the intestines of the sperm whale to help in digestion of all of the sea’s spiny foods, has long been prized by perfumers. (Its weirdly fascinating history, in fact, inspired the name of this very site!)

Although harvesting it from whales can be tricky due to whaling laws, every once in a while a chunk of it washes ashore and is happened upon by a lucky wanderer.

Such is the story for Gary and Angela Williams, from Overton, Lancashire. They discovered a lump of ambergris about the size of a rugby ball this week, according to The Guardian. If proven to be ambergris the couple can expect a hefty sum for their find. To put it into perspective, a piece of ambergris weighing just over one kilogram was recently valued at over $20,000. Yes, whale vomit is worth a shocking amount.

Ambergris is extremely rare (the synthetic, ambroxan, is often used in its place), is illegal to trade in Australia and the U.S., and is prized by the perfume industry. In fragrance, it lends a rich musky essence and is used also make a scent last longer.

(Take a look at these classic perfumes, many of which employ ambergris.)

On that musky-smelling character, Mr. Williams is not convinced. “It’s a very distinctive smell,” he says, “like a cross between squid and farmyard manure.”

PHOTO: National Geographic

The best perfumes of 2015: Take a read!


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This article was written by

Alexandra Donaldson is the editorial assistant at The Whale & The Rose and a freelance writer and content creator. Although she recently took up yoga in an effort to be a healthy adult, she still binge-watches cartoons on a regular basis and dreams of running away to a cottage in the woods. She has yet to nail down her favourite perfume, but knows that it smells green, earthy and maybe a little bit spicy, but definitely not sweet.