When Gary and Angela Williams strolled along Middleton Sands beach near Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, U.K., they discovered a waxy, rubbery rock that smelled like a mixture between vomit and manure. Little did they know, the rock was worth more than its weight in gold.
The stinky, nasty lump was actually whale vomit – or ambergris – and is treasured among perfume producers, selling for tens of thousands of dollars.
The ball of whale vomit weighed 3.46 lbs and about the size of an American football.
In 2013, a man walking along the same location found a lump of whale vomit after his dog went crazy over a dirty old rock, reported NBC News. It weighed half the size of Gary and Angela’s rock and sold for around $171,000.
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Ambergris develops a sweet, earthy aroma as it ages, which is why it’s so rare and highly sought after. Luxury perfumes such as Chanel No. 5 use ambergris as an ingredient.
The vomit consists of hardened intestinal mush from a sperm whale and can take years to form. Ambergris is believed to protect whales form the rigid and sharp objects it eats.
But while some reports call ambergris "whale vomit," others insist it's not puke. "It's poop," molecular biologist Christopher Kemp told ABC News.
He says ambergris commands such a high price because "only one percent of the 350,000 sperm whales can actually make it.”
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The couple is currently in discussions with potential buyers for sale of the ambergris, according to Metro.co.uk.
Gary had this to say:
It was a bit of a shock. It was down a section of the beach where no one really walks. 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. 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.