A British family may be $85,000 richer after finding a good-sized chunk of what they believe is rare whale vomit.
Alan Derrick, 67, and his son Tom, 39, were strolling along a beach in Somerset, U.K., when they spotted what Alan described to South West News Service as a “smelly, rubbery” rock.
“What do you think this is, Dad?” Tom Derrick asked, according to SWNS. The chunk weighs about 2.5 pounds and has a very pungent smell.
“It smells terrible. It smells like walking into a very old damp building,” Alan Derrick said.
Derrick said he suspects the object is ambergris ― hardened intestinal slurry believed to originate in the digestive tracts of sperm whales ― and told his son to “guard it with your life.”
Ambergris takes years to form and is believed to protect whales from any hard or sharp objects they may eat. The substance, often used in fragrances, commands a premium price. A British dog walker found a chunk about the size of the Derrick’s last year and sold it for $14,500.
The Derricks, hoping to confirm they really do have a prized piece of whale vomit, have sent samples to experts in Italy, New Zealand and France. They are auctioning off the chunk on eBay for a minimum bid of $85,000.
”We’re not getting too carried away about the money,” said Alan Derrick, who plans to put the proceeds in a safety deposit box for his 2-year-old grandson, Matthew.