Ken Wilman was walking along Morecambe beach in northern England when his dog Madge stopped to sniff an unusual object.
“She wouldn’t leave it alone. I picked it up and it smelt horrible so I knocked it with my walking stick and a small lump came off,” Wilman said. “I put both pieces back on the beach but something in the back of my mind told me it might be something unusual.”
He went home and did a Google search on the smelly rock. What Madge had found was ambergris, or sperm whale vomit. This vomit is a waxy digestion byproduct which is used in perfumes, medicines and spices. It is very rare, and very valuable.
Wilman immediately drove back to the beach, and breathed a sigh of relief – the ambergris was still there. He brought his find home. So far he has been offered €50,000, or $68,000.
Callum Roberts, a professor of marine conservation at the University of York, said he believes the ambergris is genuine.
“”It’s a waxy, yellow-gray piece of flotsam. I’m sure that 95 percent of people would walk past it without further thought,” Roberts said. He also noted that “fortune favors the prepared mind.”
Wilman just says that people should trust their dogs.
“If your dog pays an interest in something, YOU pay an interest in something,” he said. “Because you never know. There’s gold out there on that beach – floating gold.”