Dog discovers incredibly valuable chunk of whale vomit

AYRSHIRE, Scotland — A dog in Scotland has scored her owner an incredible payday after finding a super-rare lump of whale vomit on a beach. That’s right, whale barf could make you rich!

Patrick Williamson was in shock after his pup dropped her ball and sprinted over to a mysterious rock on the shore. The 37-year-old fisherman knew it was ambergris – a valuable chunk of secretion produced in the intestines of sperm whales.

Whales are usually able to regurgitate problem foods, but if they can’t, they produce a waxy substance to protect their intestinal tract. The whale will then expel the valuable ambergris, which will float in the sea until it washes up on the shore – ready to be found by a lucky treasure hunter.

Patrick and his dog found the five-ounce vomit sample on Irvine Beach in Ayrshire and are now getting it tested. Larger lumps have sold for millions for use by the cosmetic industry.

“I work on a fishing boat, so I knew what ambergris was. I’ve never seen it before, but I’ve heard stories about it,” Patrick explains in an online video post.

“I was walking along Irvine Beach with the dog. I clocked something on the seaweed, and the dog ran over to it and dropped her ball. She doesn’t usually drop her ball, so I knew there was something there.”

whale vomit, also known as ambergris
The super-rare lump of whale vomit found on Irvine beach in Ayrshirer Scotland. (Credit: SWNS)

Ambergris is sold by weight, with one chunk found in the Canary Islands this year weighing 21 pounds – and valued at nearly $480,000. A common test to identify ambergris is to heat up a needle and lay it on the surface of the rock. Ambergris will begin to melt into a waxy, black or brown liquid very quickly.

“I weighed it when I first got it, and it was about five and a half ounces. That’s not really that big compared to some other bits that have been found,” Patrick says. “We’ve tested it with a hot needle, and it was doing the exact same thing that ambergris would.”

“People have been saying that I can take it to Glasgow University, and they’ll test it – so I’ll be doing that on my next day off,” the fisherman adds.

Sperm whales are protected by law in the United Kingdom however, it is legal to sell ambergris found on the shoreline. Patrick plans to test his ambergris to ensure its legitimacy, but after that, he’s unsure what to do with his find.

“Everybody’s been messaging me – one of my pals even contacted someone at the local paper,” the lucky 37-year-old dog owner concludes.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it! I’m on the beaches all the time. I take my dog with me wherever I go, so we’ll be looking every time we land now.”

Ambergris helps to create several products


Ambergris is most prized for its use in perfume. It has a unique musky scent that adds depth and complexity to fragrances. Ambergris is also a fixative, which means that it helps to hold the scent of other ingredients together, making it last longer.

A teenage girl applying perfume
A teenage girl applying perfume (Photo by Christo on Shutterstock)


Ambergris has a long history of being used as a food flavoring. It was used in ancient Egypt, China, and India. In the 18th century, it was also popular in Europe, where it was used to flavor chocolate and coffee. Today, ambergris is still used in some traditional cuisines, such as Turkish coffee and Moroccan mint tea.

Traditional medicine

Ambergris has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It was believed to have a variety of medicinal properties, including treating headaches, colds, and epilepsy. In some cultures, it was also believed to be an aphrodisiac.

whale ambergris
The super-rare lump of whale vomit found on Irvine beach in Ayrshirer Scotland. (Credit: SWNS)

Other uses

Ambergris has also been used in a variety of other products, including incense, candles, and soaps. It is also used in some traditional crafts, such as Japanese lacquerware.

South West News Service writer Elizabeth Hunter contributed to this report.

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