Fishermen found $1.5M worth of whale vomit in Yemen
FRI, 06/04/2021 - 09:56
group of Yemeni fishermen had their lives changed with whale vomit.
The odorous organic material – also known as ambergris – came from a sperm whale carcass in the Gulf of Aden, according to the BBC.
Inside the floating whale’s stomach was 280 pounds of ambergris, which is a solid digestive substance that’s used in the fragrance industry for scent stabilization, Britannica reports.
The material is created when a sperm whale can’t digest beaks from squid and cuttlefish, according to recent theories that believe ambergris is regurgitated as a protective mechanism following intestinal irritation.
Thirty-five men reeled in the deceased whale under the suspicion that the whale contained ambergris based on its smell, one of the fishermen explained in a video interview with the BBC.
The 280 pounds of ambergris was reportedly sold for $1.5 million to a trader in the United Arab Emirates, according to The India Times.
Meanwhile, the collection and sale of ambergris is illegal in the U.S. due to it being a byproduct from an endangered species per policies set in place by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Over in Yemen though, the fishermen split their seven-figure catch and have bought cars, homes and boats while also making charitable donations to their village, according to the BBC.
The United Nations reports that Yemen has a population of around 24.1 million and 80% are said to be "in need of humanitarian aid and protection."
Beside this Yemeni group of fisherman, other people throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia have found multimillion-dollar pieces of ambergris.
In 2016 Gulf News reported that three fisherman in Oman found and sold 176 pounds of ambergris, which was worth nearly $3 million. Four years later, a Thai fisherman found and sold his 220-pound ambergris find that was worth around $3.3, according to the Daily Mail.
Today, ambergris is used as a preservative in perfumes and other fragrance products. The musky scent is reportedly used in many European and Middle Eastern perfume brands, according to Fragrantica – an online perfume encyclopedia.