The Mumbai Police has arrested five people and seized nearly 9 kg of Ambergris.
- Ambergris, French for grey amber, is generally referred to as whale vomit.
- It is a solid waxy substance originating in the intestine of the sperm whale.
- Ambergris is produced only by an estimated 1% of sperm whales.
- Chemically, ambergris contains alkaloids, acids, and a specific compound called ambreine, which is similar to cholesterol.
- It floats around the surface of the water body and at times settles on the coast.
- Because of its high value it is referred to as floating gold. 1 kg of ambergris is worth Rs 1 crore in the international market.
- It is used in the perfume market, especially to create fragrances like musk.
- It is believed to be in high demand in countries like Dubai that have a large perfume market.
- Ancient Egyptians used it as incense. It is also believed to be used in some traditional medicines and as a spice.
- Due to its high value it has been a target for smugglers especially in coastal areas.
- There have been several cases where the coastline of Gujarat has been used for such smuggling.
- Since the sperm whale is a protected species, hunting of the whale is not allowed.
- However, smugglers are known to have illegally targeted the fish in order to obtain the valuable Ambergris from its stomach.