This may look like a piece of dirty yellow rock to you – but it could be worth £100,000 to a thrilled Morecambe man.
Ken Wilman was stunned to learn that the unusual ‘stone’ his dog uncovered on Morecambe beach is believed to be a piece of rare and valuable whale vomit.
Now a French dealer has offered Mr Wilman 50,000 Euros if the 3kg lump turns out to be sperm whale sick, or ambergris, because it’s an in-demand perfume ingredient.
Nicknamed ‘floating gold’, the ambergris could actually end up being worth twice as much. Mr Wilman’s boxer Madge found the lump while they were out walking near The Battery.
Mr Wilman said: “It was like walking on the beach and finding a bag of £50,000 in cash, “I didn’t actually realise what it was at first, I couldn’t understand why Madge was so interested in it.
“It smelled horrible.
“I left it, came back home and looked it up on the internet. When I saw how much it could be worth, I went back to the beach and grabbed it!”
Mr Wilman, who is unemployed after hurting his back in a motorbike accident, now plans to send a small sample of ambergris to France to have it checked.
“If he verifies it, it could be like winning the Lottery,” he said.
Chris Hill, curator at the Aquarium of the Lakes in Cumbria, said: “It’s quite a find.
“How much it’s worth will depend on how fresh it is, but it’s potentially $180,000.
“There are places in Europe that will buy it from you. They will age it, like a fine wine, and then test it for perfume.”
Ambergris has a peculiar smell which has been used in scents like Chanel No.5.
Sperm whales eject the intestinal slurry into the ocean, usually when they have a stomach or throat problem. It can then float around undiscovered for years in the water, where it hardens and develops its distinctive odour.
In 2006 a couple walking on an Australian beach found a 32-pound chunk of ambergris, which netted them $295,000.