Ken Willman was walking along Morecambe Beach near Lancaster, England, when his dog started paying eager canine attention to something marine-oriented and stinky. The guy poked at it and was like, oh, whatever. And then he went home and checked out Google. And then he thought, “Hmmm … Better go check that thing out more closely,” and good thing he did, because that seemingly yucky thing was a chunk of this sticky bad-smelling by-product of whale digestion called ambergris that just happened to be worth about $70,000.
If you have read Moby Dick, you probably know what ambergris is. If you have not, then you really should, because it’s a very fine book, and, by the way, ambergris, according to Wikipedia, is “a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish color produced in the digestive system of sperm whales … 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.”
It used to be used to make perfume, although now, perfume makers have found synthetic alternatives. But some super fancy perfume brands still use ambergris and will pay top dollar for it, which is why that dude is so effin lucky that his dog sniffed the stuff out for him.
Gee. Why am I sitting here writing about this guy? I need to quit my job, get a trusty hound, and move to Ye Olde Seaside.
Smelly sperm whale secretion could mean massive payout for lucky British beachcomber, Washington Post.