Nearly 9 kg of Ambergris was seized by the Mumbai Police over the past 15 days. In the first case, 2.2 kg was seized from three men in Mulund area. The police believe they obtained Ambergris from Gujarat and were looking for sellers.
What is Ambergris?
- It is a solid waxy substance that floats around the surface of the water body and at times settles on the coast.
- Ambergris, French for grey amber, is generally referred to as whale vomit.
- A sperm whale eats several thousand squid beaks a day.
- Occasionally, a beak makes it way to the whale’s stomach and into its looping convoluted intestines where it becomes ambergris through a complex process, and may ultimately be excreted by the whale.
Is it Ambergris valuable?
- This excretion is so valuable it is referred to as floating gold.
- As per the latest estimates given by Mumbai Police, 1 kg of ambergris is worth Rs 1 crore in the international market.
- The reason for its high cost is its use in the perfume market, especially to create fragrances like musk.
- It is believed to be in high demand in countries like Dubai that have a large perfume market. Ancient Egyptians used it as incense.
- It is also believed to be used in some traditional medicines.
- Due to its high value, Ambergris has been a target for smugglers especially in coastal areas.
- There have been several cases where the coastline of Gujarat has been used for such smuggling.
- Since the sperm whale is a protected species, hunting of the whale is not allowed.
- However, smugglers are known to have illegally targeted the fish in order to obtain the valuable Ambergris from its stomach.
- However, Ambergris is produced only by an estimated one per cent of sperm whales.