A couple in Lancashire in England found a lump of whale vomit also known as ambergris that is possibly worth AU$ 100,000. The couple, Gary and Angela Williams, are already in negotiations with prospective buyers from France and New Zealand after finding it along Middleton Sands beach near Morecambe Bay.

Apparently, ambergris is used by perfumers to make scents last longer. It is a rare substance secreted in a sperm whale’s bile duct and intestines, which serves to alleviate the passage of any hard or sharp objects that the animal has ingested.

The lump of whale vomit found weighs 1.57 kilogrammes. During the couple’s stroll, they followed the smell of rotting fish and found a greyish lump.


Ambergris. Photo from Wikimedia/Peter Kaminski

“It was down a section of the beach where no one really walks,” says Gary Williams. “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.”

The lump was a bit smaller than a rugby ball. The couple knew about ambergris and its potential worth so they brought it back home. “If it is worth a lot of money, it will go a long way towards buying us a static caravan,” Gary points out. “It would be a dream come true.”

In 2013, a 2.7-kilogramme ambergris was also discovered on the shore in Morecambe. It was priced at more than AU$220,000. Another lump was also found in September 2015 on a beach in Anglesey. It weighed up to 1.1 kilogrammes and was auctioned off for more than AU$20,000.

Whales are not killed to gather this substance. Nevertheless, Australia and the US along with other nations have prohibited its use as per the general ban on whale hunting.