Scientists from the University of Las Palmas, based in the Canary Islands, revealed that the death of a stranded sperm whale was caused by the presence of an ambergris mass worth 500,000 euros inside its body, based on the autopsy conducted.
A group of scientists, led by Dr. Antonio Fernandez, a professor in the Department of Forensic Veterinary Pathology at the University of Las Palmas, discovered a rare 9.5-kilogram ambergris while performing an autopsy on a stranded sperm whale.
The scientists determined that the ambergris, which has an estimated market value of approximately 500,000 euros, caused a rupture in the whale’s intestines and led to its death.
In a statement on July 3rd, Prof. Dr. Antonio Fernandez mentioned that the valuable raw material, particularly sought after in the perfume industry, would be sold, and the proceeds would be donated to the individuals affected by the volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma in 2021.
Sperm whales feed on large quantities of marine organisms, but certain parts of these organisms cannot be digested by the whales’ digestive system. As a result, whales expel this solidified substance, known as ambergris, by regurgitating it.
Only about one out of every hundred sperm whales produces ambergris, making it a rare find usually discovered floating in the sea.
Due to its scarcity and the ability of its scent and alcohol content to enhance the longevity of fragrances, ambergris is highly valued as a raw material in the perfume industry.
Ambergris is a unique substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. It is formed as a secretion or excretion to protect the whale’s intestines from the sharp beaks of squids, which are one of their primary prey.
Ambergris initially has a soft, waxy texture and a dark, foul-smelling appearance. However, over time and exposure to the sun and saltwater, it undergoes a chemical transformation, becoming hardened and developing a pleasant, musky aroma.
Ambergris is highly valued in the fragrance industry for its fixative properties, which help to prolong the scent of perfumes. It adds depth, complexity, and longevity to fragrances. Due to its rarity and unique olfactory qualities, it is considered a luxury ingredient.
Ambergris can be found washed up on beaches or retrieved from the ocean after being expelled by sperm whales. Its discovery is relatively uncommon, making it a prized and sought-after substance. It is used primarily as a raw material in high-end perfumes and occasionally in traditional medicine practices.