Saturday, July 20, 2013

Look What I Found On the Beach--Whale Vomit!

It's summer.  You and your family are strolling along a beach.  You find an odd, waxy looking thing that kind of looks like a rock, but it is not a rock.  But it is so cool and weird, you just have to put it in your knapsack and find out what it might be. 

Daily Echo via /
Eight-year-old Charlie Naysmith shows off the piece of ambergris he found on the beach at Hengistbury Head on the coast of southern England.
That happened last summer to an 8-year-old boy in England.  We're sure his mother screeched when research indicated the find was WHALE VOMIT.  Oh the horror.  But "Oh the joy," the family found when they discovered this rare find was worth $15,850 to $63,350 (£10,000 and £40,000). 

The find is also known as ambergris--or floating gold--a product used in expensive French perfumes. 

Here's how NBC Science News describes ambergris:

Ambergris is a waxy, bile-like substance that builds up in the intestines of sperm whales, apparently to ease the passage of hard material such as squid beaks through a whale's digestive tract. It's often characterized as whale vomit, and although that's fine as a family-friendly description, the stuff is more widely thought to come out of the whale's back end rather than its front end.

Fresh ambergris smells like fresh whale poop, but after a long period of seasoning and hardening in the ocean, it takes on a more delicate odor. It's been variously compared to the aroma of tobacco, the scent of an old wooden church, the fragrance of seaweed, or the smell of rubbing alcohol without the pungency.

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