Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ambergris by any other name is still whale puke


Well, actually ambergris is Sperm whale puke. It's this fatty substance that upchucked from a Sperm whale's intestine when they are trying to get rid of an irritant they've ingested. Squid beaks are apparently the most common irritant found in Sperm whale puke (I'd suggest going easy on the calamari at parties if you are a Sperm whale).

For some inexplicable reason, ambergris has been used as a fixative in expensive perfumes. It helps keep scents from fading quickly. And even more inexplicably was a fad during the Renaissance to craft jewellery out of ambergris.

Did I mention that this is Sperm whale puke we are talking about? Who was the first person to think up the possible uses for Sperm whale puke? More importantly, why?

The weird thing is that abergris is worth a small fortune. If you find a chunk of it while you are beachcombing you are talking major bucks if you recognize it as ambergris and not just a chunk of gunk with squid beaks sticking out. Depending on the quality of the ambergis you find, is worth about $20 a gram. That's premium puke.

This proves to me that people will buy anything (which is why eBay is so successful). I'm seriously thinking of going out an find me a Sperm whale and sticking my finger down its throat.

6 comments:

kristy said...

And spermacetti is the fat that's harvested from sperm whales, the best of it coming from the beast's caranium. It was highly valued through about the end of the Civil War, at which point oil/petroleum production became cost-effective enough to replace it. I imagine sperm whale head fat used to be more valuable than sperm whale puke. Maybe something will come along to replace the latter too. And let's not even get started on caviar. Or those owl pellets my daughter had to discet in science class. Or cow's milk, for that matter.

Tim ID said...

Cow's milk? Gross!

whitesnake said...

Next Time I puke I'll check it out. You never know eh. As a matter of fact if we go around and make everyone puke we increase our chances of finding hidden treasures .

Lights in the wake said...

All day I've had this Rush song playing in my head. It mentioned ambergris in the lyrics but I can't seem to remember it exactly. Oh well, it kept me occupied anyway.

THE Michael said...

I have the same question concerning the first human to eat an oyster. I mean, what the HELL was he thinking? Was he THAT hungry? Did it start out as a neanderthal fraternaty hazing ritual?
I mean, come on, it looks, feels, and tastes like SNOT! hmmmm never mind. Kids eat snot all the time.......

Next thing you know aliens will be harvesting us for our penises thought to have amazing powers of some kind when freeze dried and eaten with cheerios.......

Hayden said...

I suppose it helps if you find it lying around on the beach and have no idea where it came from. More mysteries generously donated by Neptune.