Lucky Couple Find Valuable Lump of Smelly Whale Vomit



Ambergris, Sperm Whale vomit

Gary and Angela Williams are celebrating after the large, smelly ‘rock’ they found on a Lancashire beach turned out to be something far more valuable.

Another Whale’s vomit is another man’s good fortune. The Mirror reports Gary and Angela Williams found a lump of “floating gold” on Sunday while walking on the beach in Britain.

The couple are celebrating after a large, smelly ‘rock’ they picked up on the beach turned out to be a chunk of whale vomit – potentially fetching a cool £50,000 (about $56,540.00 US).  Gary and Angela Williams, from Overton, Lancashire, were walking along Middleton Sands beach near Morecambe Bay as they were headed in the directing of rotting fish.

Following the stench, they spotted what looked like a smelly looking egg shaped ‘rock’ that resembled a piece of ambergris, otherwise know in laymen’s terms as whale vomit.  Ambergris is used in the perfume industry as a fixative to increase the longevity of a perfumes.  The British couple had previously read about the highly sought-after excrement in a newspaper article.  Suspecting what they found was very valuable, they wrapped the object in a scarf and took it home.  Gary, 48, later put the ambergris on his fishing scales and found it weighed 3.46 lbs (1.57 kg) which was more than half the size of a lump discovered near Morecambe several years ago that was valued at a whopping £120,000 back in 2013.

Gary and Angela, a 49 year-old nurse, are now in negotiations with potential buyers over their stinky find.  Dubbed ‘floating gold’ for its rareness and high value for perfume manufacturers, ambergris is hardened intestinal slurry from the Sperm whale.  The substance takes years to develop within the Sperm whales gut and it can float along ocean currents for years before washing ashore.  Ambergris occurs as a secretion of the bile duct of the sperm whale.  The beaks of giant squids have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris and scientists have theorized that the substance is produced by the whale’s gastrointestinal tract to ease the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have eaten.  The sperm whale usually vomits these squid beaks out but if one travels further down the gut, it will be covered in ambergris, similar to why an oyster incapsulates a grain of sand and forms a pearl in the process.

Extended exposure to the sun and sea will transform it into a smooth, grey lump of compact rock.  Gary, an engineer, described his and his wife’s find as ‘a bit of a shock’.  “It was down a section of the beach where no-one really walks,” he said.  “It smells too bad though. It’s a very distinctive smell, like a cross between squid and farmyard manure.  “It feels like a rock hard rubber ball. Its texture is like wax, like a candle.  “When you touch it you get wax sticking to your fingers.”  He added: “If it is worth a lot of money, it will go a long way towards buying us a static caravan. It would be a dream come true.”

Gary and Angela often scour the beach for unusual items when they go for walks.  They spotted the 1.57 kg ambergris on Sunday and have since safely stored it while they consult experts in France and New Zealand.

This article originally appeared on Newser: Lucky Couple Finds Precious Lump of Smelly Whale Vomit


About Author

Scott Groseclose is the owner of AquaNerd, Aquarium Specialty, Aqua Specialty Wholesale, BioTek Marine, & The Carolina Reef Experience. He has a degree in Biology from St. Andrews University and he has been a passionate reef keeper since 1988.