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Last Updated: Saturday August 12 2006 11:39 GMT

Beach vomit find worth thousands

Ambergris (pic: www.ambergris.co.nz)
A pile of sick might not appeal to you, but one lucky girl knew she was onto a winner when she stumbled across some stinky vomit on a beach in Wales.

Melissa Cathcart, 10, had come across ambergris, which is thrown up by ill sperm whales, and is used to make expensive perfume.

She'd heard about it on the radio, and recognised the special sick.

The waxy stuff is worth about 10 a gram. That means the 350g lump Melissa found could net her up to 3,500!

Sperm whale
Ambergris comes from the stomach of sperm whales

Ambergris is a very rare substance, and starts off its weird life being made in the stomach of sperm whales, where it helps them digest their food.

But when they get sick, it gets thrown up into the sea.

Foul smelling

At this point it's soft and foul-smelling, but years of floating on the oceans hardens it, and makes it smell sweet.

Melissa's lump of ambergris, also known as floating gold, could have come all the way from America.



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