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Sperm whale secretion may spell fortune for UK man

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POSTED January 31, 2013 8:27 p.m.

 

LONDON (AP) — One very smelly sperm whale secretion may soon make one lucky British beachcomber a very happy man.

Ken Wilman told British broadcasters that he had been walking along Morecambe beach in northern England when his dog, Madge, discovered a hard, soccer ball-sized piece of smelly rock.

"She wouldn't leave it alone. I picked it up and it smelt horrible so I knocked it with my walking stick and a small lump came off," he told Sky News television in comments broadcast Thursday. "I put both pieces back on the beach but something in the back of my mind told me it might be something unusual."

One Google search later and Wilman realized that Madge had found ambergris, a waxy byproduct of sperm whale digestion that has traditionally been used in perfumes, spices, and medicines — and can fetch large sums of money. He said he immediately drove back to the beach to find the ambergris. He said he has been offered €50,000 ($68,000) for the musky material.

Callum Roberts, a professor of marine conservation at the University of York, said the find appeared legitimate.

 

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