Wildlife Crime Control Bureau officials seized 18 kg of whale vomit(ambergris) which is popular as floating gold from Chettuva, Kerala on Friday. The officials reported that the 18 kg ambergris will amount to Rs 30 cr in the international fragrance market.
As per forest officials, this is the first time a group selling ambergris has been caught in Kerala state. Earlier, similar cases were reported in Andhra Pradesh and Bengaluru. The three-member group was apprehended after an operation conducted by the Kerala Forest Flying Squad and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.
The accused have been identified as Rafeeq and Faisal, originally from Thrissur itself, and Hamsa from Ernakulam.
Kerala forest officials said whales come under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and ambergris is considered as an “uncured trophy” of the largest mammal.
Ambergris, commonly known as whale vomit, is a brownish waxy substance that forms in the abdomen of sperm whales. This substance, which is vomited by whales, floats in water.
Ambergris is found in lumps of various shapes and sizes, usually weighing from 15 grams to 50 kilograms or more.
Ambergris has been mostly known for its use in creating perfume and fragrance much like musk. Perfumes can still be found with ambergris. Ambergris has historically been used in food and drink.
Ambergris is formed from a secretion of the bile duct in the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating on the sea or washed up on coastlines. It is sometimes found in the abdomens of dead sperm whales.
The coastal area of Oman in the Middle East is famous for ambergris. The substance is as valuable as gold in the perfume market.