A woman in Thailand tripped over a fortune while walking on a beach recently. Siriporn Niamrin, 49, was loitering around the beach on the coast of Nakhon Si Thammarat when she noticed a mysterious chunk on the beach. Ms. Niamrin reportedly noticed that the chunk smelled fishy and believing that it could be something special, brought it back home with her. This was on February 23. When she got back home, Ms. Niamrin asked her neighbors for their aid in identifying the object she had discovered. She was surprised when told that the deformed mass was actually whale vomit, also known as ambergris.
According to the Daily Mail, the 12 inches wide and 24 inches long lump of ambergris has an estimated value of 1.86 lakh pounds – or approximately Rs 1.8 crore. Ambergris is produced in the system of a sperm whale and is invaluable for perfumers since it works as a fixative, allowing the fragrance to endure for longer. To check the genuineness of the ambergris she found, Ms. Niamrin held a naked flame to melt it and harden it again after cooling down.
She is now waiting for experts to visit her house and check the authenticity of the ambergris. “If I really have the genuine ambergris, I can help my community once I find a buyer for it,” she says. “‘I feel lucky to have found such a large piece. I hope it will bring me money. I’m keeping it safe in my house and I have asked the local council to visit to check it.”
Ambergris is often found along the coasts of China, Japan, Africa, and the Americas and even on islands such as the Bahamas. Fresh ambergris is dark, soft, and has a pungent smell. When it is exposed to sun, air, or seawater, this substance hardens and changes color, fading to light gray or yellow and in this process develops a pleasing smell.