Walker finds rare whale vomit worth £100k on British beach
A dog walker has found what he believes to be a rare piece of whale vomit worth £100k while walking along the beach.
Ken Wilman was taking a stroll along the beach in Morecambe, Lancashire, when his dog, Madge, found the yellow rock-like specimen.
He has described the find as "like winning the lottery", and experts have said it could be worth up to £114,000.
Whale vomit, or ambergris, is often dubbed "floating gold", as it is valued as an important ingredient in perfumes.
It is secreted by sperm whales and is thought to protect against intestinal irritation caused by the beaks of their prey, squid and cuttlefish.
Large pieces of the foul-smelling waxy substance are vomited up by the whales, after which they float on water.
Over 10 to 20 years, the waste solidifies and exposure to sun and salty water turns it into a smooth lump of compact 'rock', while its unpleasant smell becomes more sweet.
Andrew Kitchener, principal curator of vertebrates at the National Museum of Scotland, told the BBC: "It's worth so much because of its particular properties.
"It's a very important base for perfumes and it's hard to find any artificial substitute for it.
"Over time it becomes a much sweeter smell as it oxidises, but initially it doesn't smell very nice."
Mr Wilman told the Daily Telegraph: "It was like walking on the beach and finding a bag of £50,000 in cash.
"I didn't actually realise what it was at first, I couldn't understand why Madge was so interested in it. It smelled horrible.
"I left it, came back home and looked it up on the internet. When I saw how much it could be worth, I went back to the beach and grabbed it."
Ken has already been offered €50,000 (£43,000) by a French dealer if the 3kg lump turns out to be ambergris.
He has sent a sample off to France to be checked and verified, and, if it is confirmed as ambergris, his offer could double.
Chris Hill, curator at the Aquarium of the Lakes in Cumbria, told the Daily Telegraph: "It's quite a find. How much it's worth will depend on how fresh it is, but it's potentially £114,000.
"There are places in Europe that will buy it from you. They will age it, like a fine wine, and then test it for perfume."
It's not the first time a valuable lump of whale 'sick' has been found on a UK beach. Back in August 2012, eight-year-old schoolboy Charlie Naysmith found a large chunk of ambergris at Hengistbury Head, near Bournemouth, which was worth around £40,000.
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