Dog sniffs out 'whale vomit' on Lancashire beach worth £100k

Jan 31, 2013

'There's gold out there', says owner after finding rare rock of ambergris produced by sperm whales

WHEN Ken Wilman, a 50-year-old man from Lancashire, stumbled across a dirty yellow rock on his local Morecambe beach, only his dog Madge took any interest.

But when he got home he realised what he had found: a 6lb lump of ambergris, a rare substance known as 'whale vomit' worth up to £100,000.

"For some unknown reason I went onto my laptop and I put whale vomit into Google," he told the BBC. "I didn't actually realise what it was at first and couldn't understand why Madge was so interested in it... When I saw how much it could be worth, I went back and grabbed it."

Wilman, a single unemployed father-of-one, has been offered £43,000 from a French dealer – but experts say it could be worth double. He told Sky he wants to spend the money on a holiday to Peru with his 15-year-old son, as well as a treat for Madge.

Ambergris is a substance secreted by sperm whales. Over the years and through exposure to the sun it turns into a smooth lump of rock used in perfume, incense, medicine and as food flavouring.

Curator Chris Hill confirmed to the Daily Mirror it was quite a find. "There are places in Europe that will buy it from you. They will age it, like a fine wine, and then test it for perfume," he said. Callum Roberts, professor of Marine Conservation at York University, told Radio 4's Today programme it was a "perfect stabiliser for perfumes".

As for Wilman, he has some advice for fellow dog walkers: "If your dog pays an interest in something, you pay an interest in it. Go and have a look and see what they were sniffing at, because you never know. There's gold out there on that beach. Floating gold."

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