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Current Affairs

Ambergris

Date: 26 June 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Mumbai police have arrested people in more than two cases for trying to illegally sell Ambergris or whale vomit.

 

Details

  • Ambergris is a French word for Grey amber. It is usually considered as a vomit of whale, which is secreted from the whale’s stomach.

  • Several experts do not accept this. Sperm whales consume large amounts of squid beaks and any one beak can enter into whale’s stomach.

  • The beak enters into the depths of the whale’s intestines where it turns into ambergris due to a complex process. Sometimes, this is excreted by the whale.

  • The ambergris is a waxy substance and floats on the sea surface once it is excreted by the whale. It may ultimately wash up to the shore.

 

Reason for its value

  • The compound is considered a floating gold due to the price it fetches in the market. A 1Kg of ambergris costs around 1 crore.

  • The ambergris gets its value from its use in perfume industry, where it is used to develop unique fragrances such as musk.

  • Ancient history shows that it was used by Egyptians as incense. Currently, it has high value in Dubai market. Some traditional medicines also make use of it.

 

Protection of illegal trade

  • Sperm whale is a protected species and catching them to obtain ambergris is prohibited under Indian laws.

  • The coast of Gujarat is usually the hotspot for ambergris smuggling. The compound is obtained from slaughtering sperm whales. But only 1% of sperm whales produce ambergris.