Vomit of whale worth 2.6 crore seized in Mumbai. More about pricey ‘ambergris’

Updated on Jul 21, 2022 01:30 PM IST
  • According to reports, 1kg of ambergris is sold for 1 crore in the international market.
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales - named after the waxy substance called ‘spermaceti’ which is found in their heads.(File image by genevaenvironmentnetwork.org)
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales - named after the waxy substance called ‘spermaceti’ which is found in their heads.(File image by genevaenvironmentnetwork.org)

The Mumbai crime branch on Wednesday arrested a man for trying to smuggle whale vomit worth 2.6 crore. The Crime Branch seized 2.8kg of vomit, or ‘ambergris’, also known as ‘grey amber’ and 'floating gold'.

The accused was identified as Vaibhav Janardhan Kalekar, an ANI report. The Mumbai Police registered a case against Kalekar under seven different sections of the Wild Animal Protection Act. This is not the first time that the Crime Branch has busted smuggling of ambergris that costs more than gold.

Why is whale vomit is so valuable

Ambergris is produced by sperm whales - named after the waxy substance called ‘spermaceti’ which is found in their heads. Ambergris is also a waxy substance, but it is solid and inflammable. Produced in the intestines of the sperm whale, Ambergris is used mainly in perfumes, and sometimes for medicinal purposes. As per studies, ambergris makes the scent in the perfumes last longer.

According to reports, 1kg of ambergris is sold for 1 crore in the international market – the reason being that only sperm whales make ambrein, the compound responsible for ambergris’ origin.

The sale of ambergris is prohibited in India because sperm whales, an endangered species, are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1927. Sperm whales are said to be found mostly in the Arabian Sea off Gujarat, and Bay of Bengal off Odisha.

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