A lucky trio has found 176 pounds of ambergris, the “floating gold” that is expelled by sperm whales and prized by the fragrance industry.
A trio of fishermen in Oman made the catch of a lifetime when they came upon something far more valuable than their normal haul: 176 pounds (80 kilograms) of sperm-whale vomit.
The substance – actually an intestinal secretion called ambergris, though it’s known colloquially as “vomit” – could fetch close to US $3 million.
Ambergris, sometimes called “floating gold,” is so highly valued because it’s a key ingredient in high-end fragrances, helping pricey scents linger longer on human skin.
“After we made sure it was ambergris, we started cutting it in order to dry and sell it later,” Al Sinani told the site.
WATCH VIDEO: Why is Whale Vomit So Valuable?
A Saudi trader offered the fishermen 13,500 Omani rials per kilogram, which would amount to 1,080,000 rials (US $2.8 million at current exchange rates). An auction will likely determine the final price, however.
Ambergris is manufactured in sperm whales’ intestines. The substance helps loosen any hard or sharp things the whales may have ingested. When it’s expelled, it hardens as it floats on the water. Typical ambergris finds happen on shore, after the pungent objects have washed up.
The value of the special catch dwarfs recent finds such as the $70K worth found by a UK couple in 2013, the $65K worth by an English 8-year-old in 2012 or the $180K in ambergris found in 2013 by a man and his dog on a beach near Morecambe, England.