Ambergris is a natural product used in the perfume industry, particularly in manufacturing some of the more exclusive brands. The substance is usually found on beaches, or sometimes floating in the sea.
The substance is highly valued as a fixative for perfumes. It’s used as a fixative, to make a scent last much longer than they otherwise would. It’s a greasy solid, tossed up on beaches by the tide. A sizable lump may be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Its origins are extremely unusual, coming from the digestive tract of a sperm whale. Sperm whales dine primarily on squid, obtained in the whales’ incredibly deep dives. One part of the squid is not digestible, the squid beaks, which accumulate in the sperm whale’s stomach. To get rid of the beaks, a whale’s body secretes a substance that more or less glues them together, which the whale then excretes.
It’s not clear if ambergris is whale upchuck or whale poop, but the substance floats on water, decomposes and becomes the very valuable and exceedingly rare material we call ambergris. Now and then people discover a greyish blob on the beach and think they have hit the jackpot but most often the supposed ambergris is oil residue.
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