Poor fisherman finds ambergris whale vomit ‘worth more than $1m’ floating in sea in Thailand

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A struggling fisherman found a rare piece of ambergris whale vomit floating on a Thai beach.

Narong Phetcharaj – who normally only earns a few hundred dollars a month – was returning to shore when he saw a strange object being pushed by currents in Surat Thani province’s Niyom beach on September 27.

Curious, he went to the mysterious object and realised it could be a valuable whale vomit that he had seen on television before as it had the same waxy texture and appearance.

The fisherman later took the 30kg object to experts at the Prince of Songkla University to have it tested before the results proved that it was genuine ambergris.

Previous pieces of ambergris have sold for between USD 37,500 and USD 42,791 PER kg – giving Narong’s find an eye-watering value if it has a similar quality. It could now be worth as much as USD 1,250,000 based on previous prices.

The fisherman said: ‘None of the villagers has ever seen or touched a real whale ambergris before that’s why everybody was happy.’

Excitedly, he kept it wrapped in a towel for safety and hidden in a cardboard box before informing his relatives about the discovery.

Before the ambergris was tested at the university he examined the object first at home, imitating what he had seen on the news.

The man burnt the shapeless lump with half of its side has grains like sand and the other a smooth surface before it started to melt.

Narong said: ‘I’m so excited I don’t know what to do. I plan to sell the ambergris as I’ve already received a certificate to prove that it’s real.

‘If I can get a good price, I’ll retire from working as a fisherman and throw a party for my friends.’

Ambergris is produced by sperm whales when bile ducts in the gastrointestinal tract make secretions to ease the passage of large or sharp objects. The whale then vomits the mucilage which solidifies and floats on the surface of the ocean.

The solid chunk has a foul smell at first but after the mucilage dries out, it develops a sweet and long-lasting fragrance, which makes it a sought-after ingredient in the perfume industry.

In April 2016, a 1.57-kilogram ambergris ball found in Lancashire sold for GBP 50,000 (USD 67,182) while in November of the same year, three Omani fishermen found 80KG of ambergris and sold it for USD 3,000,000.

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