Gold on the beach

By Joe Cross, Big Blue Scuba School, Cheshire

 

Just another dog walk on the beach in Anglesey brought one eagle eyed man from Macclesfield, Cheshire man a very nice surprise, £11,000 for a piece of Ambergris.

 

So what it it? Ambergris is a substance used for centuries by the perfume industry to allow scent to last longer. Known for its amazing smell and fixative properties this unreactive natural product of nature it is actually formed from sperm whale faeces and vomit bile.

 

For years it the source was unknown, thought to be a sea fungus, a strange seaweed or fish liver, the true source only realised at the start of industrial Whaling, another unfortunate discovery. Through years of oxidation ambergris develops its sweet smell and washes up on beaches. As you can imagine it’s very rare and commands a hefty fee.

 

So how do you know if you have found a piece? Well there’s no easy answer, ambergris come in many different shapes, sizes and even colour. One way to find out is to warm up a needle and stab the ambergris, the genuine article will give off a strong smelling smoke, but beware as it’s highly flammable.

 

Next time you’re walking along the beach and see an unfamiliar object don’t just pass it by it may be worth a small fortune .. and if not .. cleaning up our beaches is worth a small fortune too ..

So What would you spend your ambergris money on? Let us know in the comments.

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