Satun sisters offer to sell 7.5kg lump of precious ‘whale vomit’
Two sisters in the southern province of Satun have offered to sell a large lump of what they claim to be ambergris, or “whale vomit”, a sought-after ingredient in the perfume trade.
They could earn up to 10.8 million baht if the 7.5-kilogram chunk of grey-coloured substance proves to be ambergris, also known as whale gold.
The substance, which is regurgitated by sperm whales, sells for up to $40,000 (1.4 million baht) per kilo.
Twin sisters Anyanee and Sukanya Chanamanee, 35, told reporters at their house in Satun’s Muang district on Saturday that they intended to sell the chunk if it proves to be ambergris. They also asked for help to prove its authenticity.
Anyanee said that any money earned from its sale would help improve the life of her family.
She added that her husband and son spotted the lump while they were fishing off the province’s coast in strong winds and high waves. The men hauled it aboard and sent photos of the object to relatives, who suggested it could be valuable “whale gold”.
“We hope this is a precious object that will change our lives for the better. We have always lived in hardship,” Anyanee said.
If the piece was found to be high-grade ambergris, the money earned from selling it would be spent on repairing her family’s fishing boat and buying new fishing tools, she added.
The family invited prospective buyers to contact her by phone at 082 370 7028. She will also allow samples of the lump to be tested for genuineness.
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales that eat large quantities of cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish. Indigestible parts of these creatures such as beaks and pens bind together in the whale's intestines, slowly becoming a solid mass that grows inside the huge sea mammal over many years.
The whale then vomits out the mass, which solidifies and floats on the surface of the ocean. It has a foul smell at first but develops a sweet and long-lasting fragrance after drying out, making it highly valued by perfume makers as a fixative that allows scents to endure.