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Omanis offered Dh600,000 for prized ‘whale vomit’

Rare faecal-smelling commodity is used in perfumes

  • Image Credit: Courtesy of Oman Daily
  • Omandaily pic creditImage Credit:
Gulf News

Muscat: Two Omanis found a prized perfume ingredient from the guts of a dead sperm whale that washed up on the Fooshi shores of Sadah province in southern Oman last week.

The ingredient, ambergris (also called ‘whale vomit’) is a wax-like soft substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, often found floating in tropical seas and used in perfume manufacture.

The 13kg ambergris was found after the duo gutted the whale, according to the local media reports.

The Omanis told state-owned newspaper Oman Daily that a trader offered them 65,000 riyals (Dh620,000) for it, but they refused.

“We hope to get a better deal for such a prized substance,” said Jabir Al Araimi, one of the two who found it.

Ambergris is used for making high-end perfumes costing up to thousands of dollars. The word ‘ambergris’ comes from the Arabic word ‘anbar’.

Amouage, one of international luxury perfume brands from Oman, uses ambergris to make its perfumes, which are some of the most expensive in the world.

Oman is famous for having ambergris wash up on its shores particularly in Sharqiyah, Wusta and Dhofar governorates.

Ambergris used to be highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), but some perfumers have resorted to using the synthetic ambroxan.

It is formed in the intestines of the sperm whale in response to irritation caused to the stomach lining of the whale from the sharp, indigestible, beaks of squid, which is a staple part of the sperm whale diet.

It initially produces a faecal odour, but when aged, its odour becomes sweet and earthy.

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