How to Make Money

This Guy Made $60,000 Selling a Piece of Whale Vomit

March 6, 2013
by The Penny Hoarder
Contributor

Have you ever heard the word ambergris? If so, you might know that it is a coveted ingredient in most high-end perfumes.

Just ask Ken Wilman, a British man who is soon to become the latest whale vomit entrepreneur!

Ken Wilman: Entrepreneurial Whale Vomit Extraordinaire

While out for a mid-day stroll recently, Ken’s dog, Madge, picked up on the scent of ambergris and made  a beeline towards the large glob of upchuck that was sitting on the beach they happened to be walking along.  As any good entrepreneur would do, Ken set off to confirm that this substance was in fact ambergris with the help of some local scientists before raking in the cash. The total sum he could see once the substance’s identity is confirmed? Anywhere from $60-150K!! Holy whale vomit, Batman.

And Ken isn’t the only one to stumble upon this unique fortune: A few months ago, Charles Naysmith found an interesting rock while taking a nature walk with his family along the coast of England. A bit of research confirmed the rock was ambergris and could fetch upwards of $60K! Looks like young Charles just figured out a way to bankroll a portion of his future college education…if he decides to sell it.

The Science Behind Ambergris

By definition, ambergris is a solid, waxy substance that’s produced in the digestive tract of sperm whales. Typically black or gray in color, the matter is highly flammable…and highly prized.

Produced by the whale’s digestive tract to ease the movement of sharp or hard objects through the intestines, ambergris has a putrid fecal odor when first produced that eventually turns into a potent chemical that has earthy, fresh essences which are coveted substances in the production of perfume.

Whale vomit for how much?

Ambergris is usually secreted by the whale via fecal matter. However, in the rare event that the mass is too large to pass through the digestive tract, it is vomited up (and out) by the whale. These lumps can then be found floating in the ocean–and sometimes come ashore.

If you’re one of the lucky passerby to find one of these lumps, hold on to your hat. The average price tag for  a pound of sperm whale vomit? A whopping $5,000!

Why so valuable?

Because ambergris is a natural substance, its abilities to help chemical reactions for perfumes are almost second to none (synthetics can be replicated but pale in comparison when you consider ambergris’ ability to help a perfume “stick.” In perfumes, ambergris causes the scent to bind to the skin rather than simply evaporating. This means a longer lasting scent–and a much larger price tag on that bottle.

How to find it?

Essentially, finding a glob of ambergris is a game of luck. Considering that when a sperm whale vomits, it’s in the middle of the ocean, it’s no surprise that finding ambergris at your local beach is a rare occurrence. That being said, if you’re into the idea of beach coming, you may want to book your next trip for the beaches of somewhere along the Atlantic Ocean (top destinations also include Brazil,  The Maldives and New Zealand).

If you’re in the market for some ambergris hunting, you can read more about the identification techniques and storied discoveries (one group found 88 pounds, netting themselves a cool $400K in New Zealand) by visiting Ambergris Expertise & Buying Worldwide.

 

Good luck, Penny Hoarders!

 

by The Penny Hoarder
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

Share Your Thoughts

Top Articles