La Palma: Researchers find amber lumps worth 500,000 euros in a dead sperm whale

This article first appeared on RTL.

La Palma: Researchers find amber lumps worth 500,000 euros in a dead sperm whale

This article first appeared on

One's suffering is the other's joy: A lump of ambergris weighing around nine kilograms was found on La Palma in the stomach of a dead washed-up sperm whale. The heavy mass appears to have caused chronic inflammation. Experts from the University of Las Palmas Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands confirm that the ambergris plug must ultimately have been responsible for the death of the animal, which weighed several tons.

Ambergris is an extremely valuable material for humans and has been used in perfumery for centuries. Ambergris is said to make the fragrances contained in a perfume last longer. A single kilogram can be worth up to 30,000 euros. The originally estimated 230,000 euros for this lump have now been stretched by some media to up to 500,000 euros. Exactly how ambergris is formed in the digestive tract of whales is still a mystery to scientists. Also, not every sperm whale should be in the (lucky) position to produce the valuable substance.

The finders of the carcass on La Palma shouldn't really care, the around nine kilograms could finally bring them in between 230,000 and 500,000 euros. A real blessing! But who gets to keep the money in the end?

That has not yet been clarified. "If it's really worth that much, the government will sell it. The money will then be distributed among the needy victims of the volcanic eruption two years ago," Antonio Fernández, a university spokesman, is quoted as saying. Until the government decides what to do with it, the ambergris plug is to remain in the university's possession.

According to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, killing whales for ambergris is illegal almost everywhere in the world. In this case, the finders were very lucky that the animal had already died.

Sometimes finders are even luckier, because ambergris can also be found on the beach in some places. The diseased sperm whales vomit the waxy substance - the sea then carries it to the coast at some point.

In 2021, fishermen in Yemen found a huge lump of amber, weighing 127 kilograms, the chunk from the stomach of the dead sperm whale brought them around 1.5 million euros. The find changed her whole life.

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