Thai rubbish collector hoping for a windfall after finding alleged whale vomit
A penniless rubbish collector is hoping a lump of yellow wax he found on a beach is valuable whale vomit.
Somsak Boonrith, 45, stumbled on the yellow chunk while he was sifting through trash on Tarutao island in Satun, southern Thailand last Sunday (November 10) afternoon.
He carried the 2.5kg boulder-like substance home, believing it could be the highly-sought-after ambergris which is used in perfumes.
The block could be worth around 80,000GBP, based on the price of previous finds, if it is proven to be real ambergris.
Somsak hopes he can cash in and quit work as a ragpicker, trawling the street for plastic bottles that he cashes in for a handful of coins each day.
He said: "I used to be a fisherman but a storm destroyed my boat.
Now I wander along the beach looking through rubbish and trying to find valuable things."
"I am willing to sell the alleged chunk of whale vomit and buy a new boat to revive my career as a fisherman because the earnings from rag picking were not enough to feed my family.''
Somsak asked his neighbours for helping identify the rock and they all told him it was ambergris.
They did some tests by melting a small part of the block, which turned into a thick resin-like liquid.
Local government officials will visit Somsak later this month to verify if his find is ambergris.
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales when bile ducts in the gastrointestinal tract make secretions to ease the passage of large or sharp objects.
The whale vomits the mucilage which solidifies and floats on the surface of the ocean.
The solid chunk.
Has a foul smell at first but after the mucilage dries out, it develops a sweet and long-lasting fragrance, which makes it a sought-after ingredient in the perfume industry.
In April 2016, a 1.57-kilogram ambergris ball found in Lancashire sold for £50,000 while in November of the same year, three Omani fishermen found 80 kilograms of ambergris and sold it for $3 million.