A large rock, one that is typically called “whale vomit,” was discovered by a couple in the UK.
Lancashire couple Gary and Angela Williams discovered the lump of rock while they were walking along Middleton Sands beach. A smell of rotting fish led them to a rock that was marginally smaller than a rugby ball.
There are suspicions that the rock could be ambergris, a substance that is used to make perfumes last longer on one’s skin. As it is extremely rare to find, its value could fetch high prices.
The rock found by the couple, weighing 1.57 kg, could amount to more than $70,000. Having read about ambergris previously, the couple wrapped the rock in a scarf and brought it home.
“It was down a section of the beach where no one really walks,” Gary, who is an engineer, said, as reported by the Mirror.
“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.”
Ambergris is very rare to find. Christopher Kemp, author of “Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris,” said that ascertaining whether what one has found is ambergris or not is very difficult. He said that the rock found by Gary and Angela may not be ambergris, as reported by CNN. The substance discovered was “a little too waxy” to be ambergris, and that it appears to be animal fat.
However, if the ambergris found is genuine, it could fetch the couple a large sum of money. Gary and Angela are currently in negotiations with buyers in New Zealand and France.
According to the Guardian, selling and buying of ambergris (though not harvested from dead whales) is banned in countries like Australia and the U.S. as part the ban on exploiting whales.
In 2013, a 0.5 kg lump of ambergris was discovered by an 8-year-old kid. The value of the lump was about $63,000. Last September, another piece, weighing 1.1 kg, found on a beach in Wales fetched more than $15,000 at an auction.