Published On: Thu, Jun 3rd, 2021

After dredging up a 280-pound chunk of whale vomit, fisherman reaped a $1.5 million bonanza

Mother and baby sperm whale/ flickr.com/photos/barathieu

A 35-man fishing crew working off the coast of Yemen made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery when they dragged in almost $1.5 million worth of whale vomit.

Whale vomit, sometimes called ambergris, is a pungent material found only in the digestive systems of sperm whales. According to the Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom, the substance is frequently referred to as “sea treasure” and “floating gold” because of its scarcity.

Ambergris is also a highly precious material that is used in the manufacture of fragrances to extend the life of the fragrances. Chanel and Lanvin, according to National Geographic, use ambergris into some of their high-end fragrances.

The chemical was discovered in an unusual location. According to the India Times, the fishing boat occurred to drag up a sperm whale carcass while fishing in the Gulf of Aden. While bringing it back to shore, the crew determined that the whale’s stomach may contain ambergris because of the strong odor of marine feces that the substance emanates.

When they dissected the whale, they discovered a 280-pound chunk of ambergris in its stomach.

Scientists believe the unusual chemical is formed as a result of sperm whales’ massive consumption of cephalopods (particularly squid and octopus). Whales cannot digest these cephalopods’ sharp beaks. On rare cases, ambergris is formed when a mass of squid beaks and other organic material is mixed with a waxy fluid from the whale’s intestines.

The 35 fisherman sold the slice of ambergris for $1.5 million to a buyer in the United Arab Emirates and split the money equally, according to the India Times. According to the BBC, some members of the fishing team used the whale vomit windfall to purchase new homes, cars, and boats.

“The odor wasn’t pleasant, but it was quite valuable,” one fisherman told the BBC.

According to Insider, this is not the first time unknowing fishermen have netted ambergris. Narit Suwansang, a Thai fisherman, discovered a 220-pound mass of ambergris in November while trawling the shore in the Gulf of Thailand. It generated approximately $3.3 million.

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