Thursday, August 30, 2012

Up Chuck Gold: Boy Finds Whale Vomit on Beach Worth $$$

Photo courtesy the Daily Mail

A boy in the UK has made an unusual discovery on a beach that could be worth a fortune: the vomit of an endangered sperm whale!

Eight-year-old Charlie Naysmith made the discovery on a beach in Hengistbury Head, near Bournemouth, England. He picked up what he initially believed to be an unusual beige rock with a waxy finish. The lad's parents were baffled by what the strange object was, so they decided to do a bit of investigating. As it turns out, the object was not a rock at all, but the rarely-found substance known as ambergris, which is vomited or excreted from mammoth sperm whales.

After apparently decades of floating in the ocean and sun exposure, the vomit has transformed into a smooth lump of compact rock that feels waxy to the touch and carries an oddly sweet odor. Traditionally, perfume manufacturers have coveted the substance to add to their scents, as it prolongs the smell of perfumes and colognes. A pound of the excrement can bring in as much as $12,000!

The Ancient Egyptians burned the rare substance as a form of incense and in modern-day Egypt it is used to scent cigars and cigarettes. It was also used during the Middle Ages as the Black Death swept across Europe claiming millions of lives, as people mistakenly believed the sweet scent could ward off the air-born germs and bacteria they believed carried the Plague. 

The material is shunned by perfume makers in the US, as the material is banned because it comes from an endangered species, but other countries allow for its sale.

The "rock" Charlie discovered could be worth as much as $60,000, which just might pay for a year of university studies by the time he is of college age....

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