Sometimes your dog could be your savior but here it is money earner for its owner. When it was out on a walk along the beach with its owner, it found a whale vomit lump washed ashore and decides not to leave it unless its owner decided to collect it and take home.
The extremely rare lump of whale vomit is like a gold mine and is expected to fetch 7,000 pounds (Rs.7.2 lakh) at an auction, first of its kind and the buyers are from the perfume industry, say its auctioners.
The chunk of vomit is ambergris is in the form wax and solid like a rock. It can prolong the duration of the scent of perfume and expensive as it is rare.
Found on the beach of North Wales, the ambergris measures 8″x6″ and weighs 1.1 kg, and its age could be some decades old, announce the auctioner.
Though it is whale vomit, ambergris is produced in the intestines of sperm whales to save them from the sharp beaks of squid which they eat. It is passed out as vomit by Whales.
In the past too, the ambergris was sold to the perfumery industry at a very high premium privately as it is rarely found washed ashore. This is the first time the substance will be auctioned in open.
Chris Surfleet, senior valuer and auctioneer in London said: “Our vendor took it home, did a bit of research and suspected it was ambergris and knew it had a value, so he came to us. We are 100 per cent certain it is ambergris. A number of people with experience with ambergris have studied it who have confirmed it. It is a bit like gold in that it comes down to the price per gram. There is a lot of interest in unusual items these days.”
About the legality some nations do prohibit trade in ambergris but when it is found washed ashore, the discoverer can keep it, says the auctioneer to ward off fears of authorities pounding on it.
Since this is aged ambergris, it will not have a marine, faecal odour, instead it smells sweet, earthy scent similar to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency.
Although ambergris was once highly valued by perfumers as a fixative allowing the scent to last much longer, it has been replaced by synthetics now.
Ancient Egyptians burned ambergris as incense, while it is used in cigarettes to give scent to the tobacco smaoke. In ancient China, it was called “dragon’s spittle fragrance”.
When plague was causng horrendous Black Death in Europe, people believed that carrying a ball of ambergris could help prevent them from getting the plague as its smell overwhelmed the smell of the air caused by deaths of plague.
Ambergris has also been used as a food flavouring agent and as an aphrodisiac in some cultures. It was used in Europe during the medieval times as medicine for headaches, colds, epilepsy, and other ailments.