la palma

Valuable Ambergris Found in Stranded Sperm Whale on La Palma

The stranded sperm whale found on La Palma contained a valuable "jewel" known as ambergris. This highly prized stone can sell for up to $71,000 per kilogram.

The ambergris stone discovered in the 13-meter sperm whale stranded on Nogales Beach in Puntallana, La Palma, has been appraised. The University Institute of Health of Las Palmas, who conducted the animal’s necropsy, has confirmed that the stone is a rare secretion unique to this species of cetacean. Each kilogram of this highly prized ambergris can fetch up to $71,000.

Weighing 9 kilograms, the ambergris stone found in this case could be worth around €400,000. Experts assert that the stone is the property of the animal, and the proceeds from its sale could be used to support those affected by the volcanic activity.

The Canary Islands government has not yet announced how the funds generated from this fortuitous discovery will be allocated, but it undoubtedly presents an opportunity for island development.

Ambergris, the active element formed in the sperm whale’s colon, contains ambrein, a fatty crystalline secretion that possesses aromatic properties used in perfume creation. Forensic teams are collaborating with specialized laboratories to assess the quality of the stone.

According to the necropsy report, the ambergris responsible for the whale’s demise is produced by only one in every hundred sperm whales, and not all of them expel it naturally.

The sperm whale, one of the 28 cetacean species inhabiting the deep waters of the Canary Islands, faces numerous challenges. The global population is estimated to be around 360,000, a significant decline from the millions that once existed before extensive hunting.

In the Canary Islands, particularly in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, the density of maritime traffic poses a major threat to these creatures, resulting in increased strandings along the coast.

In a recent Twitter post, Víctor D. (@BiodiverSital) shared an interesting fact about these cetaceans that is not widely known. He mentioned that sperm whale vomit, known as ambergris, holds significant market value, with prices ranging from €50,000 to €80,000 per kilogram.

Víctor shared an image, appearing like a stone, which was actually a small fragment of solidified sperm whale vomit—ambergris. This substance is highly sought after in the perfume industry due to its ability to enhance fragrance. However, only 1% of these whales produce this valuable secretion.

Furthermore, Víctor explained that it is believed that undigested squid beaks, an essential part of the sperm whale’s diet, contribute to the creation of ambergris. They are regurgitated along with partially decomposed food and gastric fluids, resulting in its formation.

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