August 30, 2012
Whale Vomit Found On Beach Could Make 8-Year-Old Rich
John Neumann for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A young British boy has quite a bit of extra coin in his pocket after a rare find on the beach near his home in the southern English coastal town of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Eight-year old Charles Naysmith picked up an odd, lump of what he thought was an odd rock from the beach and brought it home, only to discover it was a piece of ambergris worth a pretty chuck of change, writes Jane Reader for the local paper Daily Echo.
Ambergris is formed in the intestinal tract of sperm whales and often vomited or secreted into the ocean as a waxy substance that can be used in perfume to prolong its scent. The sizable chunk that young Naysmith brought home weighs 600 grams and could be worth about $60,000.
Decades of floating and exposure to sun and salt have turned the substance into a smooth lump of compact rock with a waxy texture and a sweet smell. His father, Alex, said they have contacted authorities to help them with their find. “He is into nature and is really interested in it. We have discovered it is quite rare and are waiting for some more information from marine biology experts,” AsianTown.net reported.
The family has been told it is unlikely that more ambergris will be found in the same area, ambergris is rarely found on British beaches, usually being washed up in America and Australia. That isn´t stopping the schoolboy from dreaming about how to spend his newfound riches though, currently, he is considering building some kind of a shelter for animals, reports Anna Edwards, for Mail Online.
Although it is rare to find ambergris sitting on a beach waiting to be picked up, it does happen on occasion. In 2008, beachcombers Sean Kane and Ian Foster, from North Wales, said they were on the beach walking a dog at nearby Criccieth when they made their discovery of a 110-lb. piece of the substance and sold it for about $790,000.
℠We just came across this white, like waxy lump. I said to Ian, “It looks a bit like whale sick. He had never heard of anything like it,” he said.