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Tags Current Affairs

Ambergris, the floating gold

Date: 10 December 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The Crime Branch of Pimpri-Chinchwad has seized 550 gm of Ambergris, which is sometimes known as ‘floating gold’.

 

Background

Ambergris has been in demand from many years in international market. It is incorrectly referred to as ‘whale vomit’.

 

Details

  • Ambergris originates from the digestive system of sperm whale. The term is derived from French word which means ‘gray amber’.

  • It is believed that ambergris is passed when the sperm whale ingests hard objects while consuming large quantities of marine animals. 

  • It is ejected like feces from the body and has strong fecal smell and color along with strong marine odour.

 

Characteristics

Newly ejected ambergris is light yellowish substance and is fatty. It gets brown and waxy as it ages and gains a mild, earthy, sweet smell along with marine odour.

 

Uses of ambergris

  • Ambergris costs between Rs 1 to 2 crores per kilogram, depending on the purity and quality. Its rarity makes it a costly commodity.

  • It is used in making perfumes which have notes of musk. In earlier times, it was used to flavor tobacco, food and beverages.

 

Demand

The ambergris is in high demand in countries of middle-east, South East Asia and Europe. It is also considered an aphrodisiac.

 

Legality

  • The sperm whale is a protected species under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act in India. Trade and possession of its by-products are illegal.

  • Apart from India, ambergris is banned in USA and Australia. In several countries, its trade is legalized, but with conditions.

 

Illegal trade

  • Gangs procure ambergris from coastal areas of the country and ship it to destinations via another country that has less stringent trade with India.

  • Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat are the areas where smuggling of ambergris takes place in decent amount.

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