A couple who picked up a smelly rubbery rock on the beach are hoping it will turn out to be a lump of whale vomit – worth a potential £50,000.
Gary and Angela Williams from Overton were strolling along Middleton Sands beach when they smelled rotting fish.
They followed the stench and spotted an unusual looking ‘rock’ near the water’s edge which looked like a piece of ambergris – or ‘whale vomit’ – they once saw in a newspaper.
The highly-prized substance is used in the manufacture of perfume and Gary and Angela wrapped the waxy lump in a scarf and took it home.
Gary, 48, put it on his fishing scales and found it weighed 1.57kg.
Gary and Angela, a 49 year-old nurse, are now in negotiations with potential buyers over the lump which is slightly smaller than a rugby ball.
The rock is yet to be verified by experts but could turn out to be the substance known as ‘floating gold’ due to its high value to perfume makers. Ambergris is hardened intestinal slurry from a sperm whale which takes years to form and which is thought to protect the animal from hard and sharp objects it eats.
It can float in the ocean for years before washing ashore and years of exposure to the sun and salt water transform it into a smooth, grey, lump of compact waxy rock. Gary, an engineer, said: “It was a bit of a shock. It was down a section of the beach where no-one really walks. It smells bad though. It’s a very distinctive smell, like a cross between squid and farmyard manure.
“If it is worth a lot of money it will go a long way towards buying us a static caravan, it would be a dream come true.”
The couple have put it in safe storage while they consult experts – one in France and another in New Zealand.