Man discovers ambergris worth RMB 800,000 on Xiamen beach

Updated: 05 Jun 2014
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A man in Xiamen recently found an ambergris, which may be worth RMB 800,000, on Guanyinshan Beach.

Mr. Chen was walking on the beach with his family on the afternoon of 3rd June when he came across a big hunk that looked like a taupe rock covered with silt.

Due to the bad smell of the “rock” when he picked it up, Mr. Chen, an owner of a spice company in Haicang district, left the stone on the beach at first. However, after some time he realized its value and went back to the beach again and grabbed it.

"I have been in the spice business for more than 10 years, and after some time I suddenly realized it may be ambergris. The substance, which is found in the digestive system of sperm whales, is very valuable and used to make perfumes,” Mr. Chen said.

According to Mr. Chen, ambergris is a natural excrement believed to be used by whales as a digestion aid and is expelled from its abdomen often while hundreds of miles away from land.

The spewed up ambergris, which is usually seen floating on water, has been highly prized for centuries. It can float for years undiscovered, gradually hardening and developing its distinctive odor. Then, masses of it are usually washed up on beaches in small, fist or football-sized clumps. As the substance ages it acquires a musky fragrance, but newer ambergris is known to be rather foul-smelling.

Experts in the city believe the ambergris that Mr. Chen has found could be worth about RMB 800,000 once it has been officially verified, as ambergris is an ingredient that is in demand for use by the fragrance industry for use as an ingredient in high-end perfumes.
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stefano_XM Commented on 05 Jun 2014