$500,000 chunk of ‘floating gold’ found in dead whale
The ambergris-like chunk was discovered in the sperm whale, and scientists believe it ruptured the whale’s intestine, causing its death and then landing in La Palma.
A large amount of “floating gold” has been discovered in the belly of dead whales stranded in La Palma, the Spanish island La Palma. The precious substance known as ambergris is a waxy liquid sperm whales release as they eat indigestible materials such as squid’s beaks.
Ambergris is the ingredient used to create perfumes, which can fetch thousands of dollars for a pound. According to the Guardian, the newspaper that first reported on the story, the piece found on the Canary Islands weighed about 21 pounds (9.5 kilograms) and could fetch around $550,000.
The Guardian reported that Antonio Fernandez Rodriguez, a research scientist in animal medicine at the University of Las Palmas, was digging through the washed-up whale carcass to determine how it died when he discovered an object stuck in the whale’s intestinal tract.
The ambergris may have ruptured the whale’s intestinal tract, leading to its death and eventual landing.
A mere 1% to 5 percent of Sperm whales ( Physeter macrocephalus) contain ambergris, a product from the bile duct that can be considered to cover food items that the animal has consumed. Most whales will ingest these things; however, when they don’t, ambergris protects organs in the whale from sharp substances.
This unique substance has been used to make perfume for centuries because it helps the scent stick to the skin. And even though synthetic alternatives have been created, a few firms still rely on them for specific scents.
Sperm whales were among the most sought-after animals in the historical whaling industry, as overhunting led to the population decline. However, while the global population of sperm whale population seems to be stabilizing after the fall of whaling in the latter part of the 20th century however, the species is considered to be at risk.
Sperm whales enjoy the highest degree of safeguarding according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international treaty prohibiting the selling of endangered species and their components. Since ambergris is a waste product from animals and isn’t covered under this treaty, it is legal to sell in several countries; in the United States, it is banned from sale and ownership because it is part of a protected animal.)Ambergris trade is allowed withinn the European Union, including the Canary Islandsd. Rodriguez told The Guardian he’s hoping to sell the recently discovered chunk and make the proceeds help the victims of the 2021 volcano eruption in La Palmas, which devastated a large portion of the island and caused around $929 million in damages.