What is Floating Gold?

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A massive chunk of "floating gold" was recently found in the belly of a dead whale beached on the Spanish island of La Palma.

About Floating Gold:


  • Floating Gold or Ambergris (commonly identified as a lump of vomit), is a substance extracted from the bile duct in the intestines of sperm whales.
  • It is a waxy, solid and inflammable substance.
  • It is produced by about one in every hundred sperm whales. 
  • How is it formed?
    • The scientific theory surrounding ambergris suggests that sperm whales consume significant quantities of cephalopods, including squid and cuttlefish.
    • Normally, indigestible elements like beaks and pens are expelled through vomiting before digestion.
    • However, in rare cases, these parts bypass that process and bind together within the whale’s intestines, gradually forming a solid mass of ambergris over the course of several years.
    • It is hypothesized that ambergris acts as a protective mechanism, safeguarding the whale’s internal organs from the sharp squid beaks.
    • When newly formed, ambergris emits a distinctive odor reminiscent of the sea and faeces. 
    • However, as it matures, it develops a pleasant, earthy aroma often compared to the fragrance of isopropyl alcohol, but without the sharp chemical undertones.
  • Uses:
    • It has predominantly been employed in the creation of perfumes and fragrances.
    • Ambergris has a woody scent like sandalwood but also contains ambrein, an odorless alcohol that can fix and extend the life of scents, hence its popularity among perfumers.


Q1) What are Sperm Whales?

Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and have one of the widest global distributions of any marine mammal species. They are found in all deep oceans, from the equator to the edge of the pack ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. They are named after the waxy substance—spermaceti—found in their heads. The spermaceti is an oil sac that helps the whales focus sound.

Source: $500,000 chunk of 'floating gold' found in dead whale