February 1, 2013
Whale Vomit Could Lead To Six-Figure Payday For UK Man
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Normally, stumbling across a pile of vomit while taking a stroll along the beach isn´t exactly a good thing, but in the case of one UK man, it could pay off big time.The substance in question — a lump of a rare substance known as ambergris, which has a waxy texture and is yellow in color — is produced in the digestive systems of sperm whales and is an ingredient used in some perfumes.
According to Ben Jackson, Environment Editor for The Sun, this particular pile of puke was found on the a beach in Morecambe, Lancashire, England by a boxer named Madge, who belongs to an unemployed 48-year-old man named Ken Wilman.
Wilman initially did not know what the substance was, Jackson said, but once he got home and ran a quick search on the Internet, he discovered exactly how valuable the ambergris could be. One French dealer has reportedly already offered him 50,000 euros (approximately $68,000) for the vomit, but The Sun notes that the ambergris could fetch more than $150,000, depending upon its freshness.
“Whales sometimes spew up ambergris, which floats on water and has been highly prized for centuries. It is used in perfume-making for the musky fragrance it acquires as it ages — but newer ambergris is foul-smelling,” AFP reporters explained on Thursday.
They added that Wilman was currently awaiting test results to ensure that the substance is indeed ambergris. Even so, officials at the beach are concerned that his discovery could attract the attention of other individuals, hoping to land a haul of the whale vomit and make a small fortune in the process.
"The tide comes in so very quickly that it catches people unaware, even people that know it,” Mike Guy, lifeboat operations manager at the northern England coastal town, told BBC News. “It can very quickly turn into soft sand and even quicksand and the tide will surround you.”
“We're really worried about people just wandering off on the beach searching for ambergris. They're very, very unlikely to find any because it's very rare,” he added. “We want people to be very aware of the tide and if they're in any sort of doubt about the conditions where they are walking, get in touch with the coastguard.”
Last August, an eight-year-old British boy named Charles Naysmith found a lump of ambergris near his home in Christchurch, New Zealand. The chunk of the substance weighed 600 grams and was worth a reported $60,000.