There is a secret substance only known to a few people which can be found on shores of our oceans. This substance of a solid, waxy consistency is called Ambergris or grey amber and is of a grey or blackish color. Ambergris occurs as a secretion of the intestines of sperm whale and is, so to say, “whale puke” which floats around the sea. When fresh, Ambergris smells really disgusting but after it floated around for a few years it evolves in a strange way.
Ambergris: A precious substance
The sunlight and the salty water seems to convert the fresh Ambergris into a new, waxy, amazingly good smelling substance. It smells so good that it was and still is one of the most demanded ingredients for perfumes. In the Middle Ages Ambergris was also used as a flavouring for food and was even considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures. Today the good smell of Ambergris can be synthesized for perfumes but the real thing is still in high demand.
24 USD per gram of Grey Amber
In 2013, unemployed Ken Wilman found a 12 pound piece of grey amber on Morecambe beach when he was walking his dog. First he thought the canine was just interested in a big smelly rock but soon he found out that in fact it was solid piece of Ambergris. The substance Wilman found was later valued at about $180.000 – that’s a whole lot of money for a bit of “whale puke”. But certainly not the highest price paid for Ambergris. In 2006 a couple found a big lump of the rare substance worth $259.000 and in 2011 Maori beachcombers found Ambergris worth $400.000. Since whale products are forbidden in Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand, the only way to get the smelly good is to find remains of it on the beach.
So if you’re looking for a bit of adventure and you don’t mind searching the beaches for a lump of “whale puke”: Go ahead- you might get stinky rich.