Gary and Angela Williams, a couple from Overton, Lancashire, were walking along Middleton Sands beach near Morecambe Bay on Sunday when they followed the smell like that of a rotting fish to find a greyish lump slightly smaller than a rugby ball. The couple who had previously read about whale vomit known as ambergris in a newspaper wrapped the lump in a scarf and took it home. They subsequently found that what they picked up could be worth up to €50,000.
Certainly, this is no ordinary stone – it’s a large piece of ambergris, or “whale vomit”, which is used in the perfume industry. Gary who described the discovery as a “bit of a shock” said
“It was down a section of the beach where no-one really walks,” he told reporters. 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.”
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales, which eject it into the sea when they have a stomach or throat problem. It is secreted in the bile duct and intestines of sperm whales and is thought to be produced to ease the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have eaten. It can float around undiscovered for years in the water, where it hardens and develops its distinctive odour.
A French dealer has offered Mr Wilman 50,000 euros (43,000) if the 3kg lump turns out to be sperm whale vomit, or ambergris, because it is such a vital perfume ingredient.
According to Gary, it will certainly be a dream come true if the whale vomit turns out to be the much rare and treasured ambergis, as the revenue will be enough to purchase them a static caravan.