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Lancashire couple hoping to cash in on 'whale vomit' windfall


Stashed in: Whales!, Awesome, Scatology, Giant Squid!, Luck

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I've never seen "whale vomit" juxtaposed next to windfall.

Is ambergris whale vomit? I thought it was whale poop.

Why not both?

Ambergris occurs as a bile duct secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating upon the sea, or lying on the coast. It is also sometimes found in theabdomens of whales. Because the beaks ofgiant squids have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris, scientists have theorised that the substance is produced by the whale's gastrointestinal tract to ease the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have eaten. The sperm whale usually vomits these, but if one travels further down the gut, it will be covered in ambergris.[4] [5]

Ambergris is usually passed in the fecal matter. It is speculated that an ambergris mass too large to be passed through the intestines is expelled via the mouth, leading to the reputation of ambergris as primarily coming from whale vomit.[6] It takes years for ambergris to form. Christopher Kemp, the author of Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris, says that it is only produced by sperm whales, and only by an estimated one percent of them. Once expelled by a whale, it must float for years, then it must make landfall, avoid being broken into pieces by rough seas, and someone must find it.[7] In other words, the odds of finding ambergris are extremely small. 

So it's a product of the whale microbiome, regardless of which side it comes out. 

http://pandawhale.com/post/40467/the-power-of-poop-a-whale-story-krulwich-wonders-npr

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