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Otters Oddities

Illustration for article titled Otters Oddities

Oooh! Look at the interesting rock I found!

That's no rock, kid. Rocks don't float. (Well, very small rocks, maybe. BURN HER!)


*ahem* where was I? Oh yes. While it may look like a rock, it isn't. it's a substance called 'Ambergris'. And if you find a big enough chunk of it, it could make you rich. Maybe.

The collection of ambergris is regulated in most countries. The reason for that is, it's a produce of a protected species. Ambergris is produced in the stomachs of Sperm Whales. It's waxy substance, and it's thought that the whales produce it to coat the undigestible beaks of giant squid.


You can see where this is heading, right? Well, it was first thought that the whales would then pass the coated beaks normally. (poop) But on further study, most large chunks of ambergris are simply too large to have been passed that way. No, just like a cat horking a hairball, the majority of ambergris exits through a whales pie hole. (puke)

"Fascinating!", you say? Well, consider the main use for ambergris. When it's fresh, it has the odor you'd expect. Rotten flesh with a little poo tossed in. But as it ages, it develops a sweeter, almost musky scent. That's why, since time immemorial, (or almost as long, at least), ambergris has been used as a perfume, or as the fixative ingredient in perfumes.


Written records as far back as the pharos in Egypt detail the use of ambergris. Sometimes as a perfume, sometimes as a medicine. Durring the plague years in Europe, a small glob of ambergris was worn about the neck to ward off the plague. (how'd that work for you?)

Today, only your finer, more expensive perfumes and colognes use ambergris. Science has found a cheaper, synthetic fixative.


But remember, the next time you splash on some cologne or perfume to entice those of the opposite sex, you're really dousing yourself in whale puke.

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