A couple from Northwest England found a large rock about the size of an American football while taking a walk on Middleton Sands beach near Morecambe Bay, and being drew because of the rotting fish smell, they realized it could potentially be ambergris, and now this large rock is being estimated for $70,000.
According to Christopher Kemp, the author of Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris, on a statement he gave to CNN, this substance is definitely not vomit, but it is actually something more like poop, since it comes from the same place, but it is made by a small percentage of sperm whales, as a result of indigestion.
This waxy excretion is formed in the digestion system of sperm whales and the substance is often used in perfume-making, for it to last longer on skin, which makes it rare and valuable. Knowing this is what made the couple wrap the rock in a scarf and take it home.
“It was down a section of the beach where no one really walks,” Gary told the Mirror. “It smells too bad, though. It’s a very distinctive smell, like a cross between squid and farmyard manure.”
The “rock” is usually called “floating gold,” and it is extremely hard to find, as well as it is hard to know if people actually found ambergris, Mr. Kemp said. It is produced only by a small percentage of sperm whales, in their intestines, to protect themselves from indigestible, sharp beaks of giant squids they usually feed on. The whales eventually throw out the ball of ambergris from their mouths, which is why people sometimes refer to it as vomit, and it can float in the ocean for years and, those that do not break into little pieces, eventually lands on shore.
Even though gathering ambergris does not require killing whales, many countries have banned the trade including the United States. The U.S. Endangered Species Act, for example, prohibits the possession and sale of it. Nonetheless, in the U.K. it is legal, as well as in New Zealand and France.
The Williams are currently negotiating with potential buyers in New Zealand and France.