WHALE vomit, or ambergris, is also known as “floating gold” – because of how rare and valuable it is.
But why is whale vomit so expensive – and how much is it really worth?
Why is whale vomit so expensive?
Whales vomit, or ambergris, comes from a sperm whale, but it cannot be obtained from a live sperm whale – so you can only get it if you find it adrift.
Although sperm whales live in all oceans, ambergris is found in less than 5% of whale carcasses, so you’re unlikely to see it drifting.
It is also known as the Treasure of the Sea, or Floating Gold.
It is very coveted by perfume companies to use ambrein alcohol extracted from ambergris to maintain the scent.
Pure white varieties are the most valuable in perfumery. Ambergris can also be available in gray, brown and black, with the latter being the least valuable as it contains the least amount of ambrein.
Quality is affected by oxidation.
It was once thought to be hard sponge or seabird droppings – but mass whaling in the 1800s revealed that it came from the guts of sperm whales.
They eat a lot of squid and cuttlefish and often vomit the indigestible part of the beak before digesting the rest.
However, sometimes these undigested substances pass through the intestines and combine with bile, before remaining in the whale’s intestines for many years.
It forms a tumor, which some believe whales vomit, hence the name whale vomiting.
Others believe that ambergris can pass through whales, in fact whale droppings.
Is it illegal to sell whale vomit?
In some countries, the use of ambergris is banned, along with all whale products. In other countries it is a gray area, and in a few it is legal.
It’s illegal in the UK and Europe to extract ambergris from whales – but you can collect it from the sea or the beach, as there it’s a natural waste.
Sperm whales were once hunted for ambergris, but all whales are now protected from hunting, with very few exceptions.
There are concerns that whaling could become more common as applications to control whale populations grow.
How much do whale vomit sell for?
Those lucky enough to find whale vomit have made millions of pounds.
A lucky Thai fisherman, who normally earns £500 a month, has found 100kg of ambergris in 2020 in search of possibly the world’s largest whale vomit – worth 2.4 million pound.
Naris Suwannasang, 60, noticed and collected some lumps of pale flesh on a southern Thai beach, and was later offered for sale by a dealer for £23,740/kg.
In another stroke of luck, a Thai woman found a lump of whale vomit worth £185,000 on March 1, 2021.
Siriporn Niamrin, 49 years old, dragging a 7 kg, 12 x 24 inch oval returns home after a rainstorm washed it away on a southern Thai beach on February 23.
Ambergris has been described as smelling like poop when it first appears, but has a musky smell when it dries.
It contains an unscented alcohol called ambrein, which helps the scent last longer.
Ambrein is also said to be an aphrodisiac.
Lighter colored ambergris has more ambrein in it, so is more valuable, with white ambergris being used in the best perfumery.
The vomit of whales that have been floating for a long time is lighter in color due to oxidation.
Whale vomit is expensive and has been replaced by synthetic material in most perfumes – although it is still used in Chanel No5.
It was also once used as incense and as medicine.
https://www.thesun.ie/news/8241317/why-is-whale-vomit-expensive/ Why is whale vomit so expensive?