A whale corpse was discovered by a 35-man fishing team working off the coast of Yemen’s Gulf of Aden. Only two ships were available, which were insufficient to bring the whale corpse in, so nine more were dispatched to haul it ashore near the Shamsan mountain in Aden province.
“When the fishermen passed by a large dead fish, a fisherman displaced from Hodeidah shouted to other colleagues, as he recognised it as a sperm whale,” Abdulrahman (alias), one of the fishermen who retrieved the whale, told Middle East Eye.
“We had passed by that same dead fish more than once, and we didn’t give it any attention as the sea is full of dead fish. But the displaced fisherman’s experience made the difference.”
Ambergris is a solid mass of material consumed by sperm whales that grow in their intestines over several years. Sometimes known as “whale vomit,” it is occasionally regurgitated but more often passes through the digestive system.
The fishermen began dissecting the sperm whale carcass at noon on the same day. According to Abdulrahman, one of the persons who discovered the ambergris block, over 100 fishermen helped carry the whale carcass ashore, dissect and gut the animal, and safeguard the 127-kilogram ambergris block and sell it for a profit. A trader in the United Arab Emirates paid $1.5 million for the ambergris block.
To avoid disputes, the fishermen agreed to split the proceeds from the ambergris sales evenly. Thus, the life of al-Khaimah villages was completely changed when they discovered the ambergris block.
A portion of the money was given to the village’s underprivileged. The majority of the fishermen in the group, according to Abdulrahman, did not own fishing boats and struggled to feed their families. They can now buy homes, automobiles and marry. Nevertheless, the fishermen stated that they want to continue fishing.
Whales eat many cephalopods like squid and cuttlefish, which have hard-to-digest beaks and other body parts. These organs make sperm whales practically puke. However, some portions of the fish’s intestines do occasionally drift in. Sperm whales secrete ambergris to safeguard their internal organs, according to experts. In less than 5% of sperm whale carcasses, this chemical can be found.
Ambergris, often known as “floating gold,” is a rare waxy chemical produced by sperm whales in their stomachs. Ambergris floats on water and washes up on beaches all over the world on occasion. Although it has a disagreeable odor, it is highly valued in the perfumery business since it extends the duration of the aroma. However, due to its exorbitant cost and limited supply, artificial chemicals have mostly supplanted ambergris in recent years.