1.What is Whale Vomit? Why is Ambergris so Expensive?
On 1st June, 2021, some 35 fishermen spotted a Sperm Whale Carcass near the Gulf of Aden. In this Whale carcass, They found ambergris worth $ 1.5 million.
What is Ambergris?
Ambergris is also known as “Whale Vomit” or “Whale Poop”.
Ambergris is a rare digestive end product in Sperm whales. It is one of the most strangest natural substances found on earth.
Ambergris is also called as Floating Gold. It is specially used in Perfume Industry. And Perfume having Ambergris as a base note are highly expensive. Creed Aventus perfume is one fine example.
Ambergris is rare and can be found only In 1-5% of the total whale population.
The found ambergris fossils are 17.5 lakh years old and the experts claim That the humans have been using ambergris for more than 1000 years now.
How Ambergris is made?
Like ruminants, whales too have four stomachs, and The food is digested while moving from one to another.
When digestion is not complete, the remaining partially-digested Substance form a glittering substance in any of these stomachs
Whales often unload these remaining substances in the Open oceans but not all of these vomits are ambergris.
A published paper from University of Chicago Press claims That Whale vomit’ and the ambergris are two different things.
Rarely, the indigestible materials while moving through the Stomachs transform in ambergris under many complex processes And chemicals such as Darasal squid beaks, triterpene alcohol Compound, etc. which is found in Sperm whales only
Richard Sabin of Natural History Museum (NHM) firmly believes That ambergris are formed in whale’s intestines only And get out of the body through the faecal matter
Whale oil, meat And whale bone Large scale killing
Uses of Ambergris?
Humans have been using ambergris for different purposes Since ancient times. While ancient Greeks used it for increasing The intoxication strength of wines while in medieval time, This strange substance was used for treating impotence.
Even during the Black Death pandemic, people used Ambergris on skin for protection from plague.
The Black Death was a bubonic plague that spread Through Eurasia and North-Africa between 1346-53.
Ambergris is a waxy, flammable solid substance Which has a long-lasting fragrance property.
In eastern societies, ambergris is mainly used in medicine, Potions and spices while in western societies.
It is used in perfumery The high price of ambergris is largely due to its long-lasting Aromatic fragrance. According to the GQ magazine, ambergris Is the most valuable natural raw material in perfumery.
Is collection and sales of Ambergris legal?
Ambergris, though rare, is still found on the coasts of China, Japan, Africa and the American continents.
There are different set of laws for the regulation Of collection and sales of ambergris in the Different parts of the world.
In the UK and Europe, there is Complete Prohibition on trade of living substances Of whales and dolphins.
But the ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES)’ consider ambergris as a “waste material”. Which allows its collection from beaches as a legal activity
Some scientists advocate for the increasing use of synthetic Alternatives of ambergris which will discourage the Exploitation of whales for resources
On 23rd May 2021, the Ahmedabad police had arrested Three individuals with 5 kilos of ambergris worth Rs 6 Crores in a smuggling case.
In India, the sale of ambergris is strictly prohibited Under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
Schedule I and part lI of Schedule lI provide absolute protection offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
Species listed in Schedule Ill and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted.
The plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
In India, the sale of ambergris is strictly prohibited under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
In 1970, India has already declared sperm whale as an ‘endangered species’
In February 2020, in a United Nations Summit organized At Gandhinagar, India also proposed for conservation of The Eastern Tropical Pacific Sperm Whale.
2. The Word’s Most Expensive Fungus (Yarsagumba)
Caterpillar fungus is a hybrid of a fungus that kills and lives in caterpillars. It has been used in traditional herbal medicine for many centuries but has gained popularity in recent decades. It can sell for up to 3 times its weight in gold. The high demand has driven up the price, which can be as much as about $63,000 per pound. Some towns in the Himalayas rely on collecting and selling this fungus for a living.
Caterpillar fungus grows in the remote Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan Mountains but that’s not the only place you can find it. Here we are in New York City’s Chinatown. And nestled among countless drawers of dried mugwort leaves and hibiscus flowers. There it is a small pile of 50 or so pieces of dried caterpillar fungus. Here, 1 gram of it costs about $30. But even that might be considered a good deal. Vendors on eBay, for example, list a gram for up to $125. The price is so high because this hybrid creature is incredibly rare. It shows up for only a few weeks each year in remote regions of Nepal, Tibet, India and Bhutan. And even then, the fungus can be tricky for collectors to find, hidden amidst a sea of grass. For centuries, it’s been a staple of traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine.
The Ghost moth fungus, is not only found in Tibeten platue but the entire range of the Himalayas close to the Tibetan platue, which includes Nepal, some parts of India and Bhutan. The name or the pronunciation of the word Yar-sta-gunbu changes from place to place according to the local dialects. Let me share a popular myth in my place about this medicine, How people started to use this fungus as medicine in our place. In High altitudes where Yak husbandry or Yak rearing was practiced, when the Shepard’s noticed that some of the old yaks were sick or too old to work or move, they used to abandon them to die. But after some days when they came back to the same place, they notice that the Yak didn’t die, it used to be full of energy just like before. So these Shepard’s when they noticed the secret that these old yaks or weak yaks never died was because they used to feed on Yar-tsa-gunbu, when ever the Shepard’s abandoned such yaks, the yaks used to go and feed on these medicine. So it was believed that the Yaks had the knowledge of this medicine and humans too ‘learned it from them. And as per stated by the video people consume it for the reasons mentioned.
Thank You For Reading✨