Why Is Whale Poop So Valuable

In 2016, three fishermen from the middle eastern country of Oman struck “floating gold” in the form of ambergris — whale poop. While it sounds pretty disgusting, ambergris is actually worth big bucks. The 176 pounds of it that the fishermen stumbled upon turned out to be worth nearly $3 million. So, why is whale poop so valuable? When a whale initially expels ambergris, it's soft and has a smell similar to cow dung. However, after floating on the salty ocean for about a decade, the substance hardens and the dung smell is gone, replaced by a scent that has been famous for hundreds of years in the making of perfumes. It's described as being musky, earthy, sweet or simply "indescribable.” What adds to its value is the fact that it helps the perfume scent to bind to the surface of the skin instead of evaporating, which is what makes perfumes more valuable. Ambergris is in short supply and high demand because no other whales besides sperm whales produce it. It only washes up on a beach somewhere every few years and is found in less than 5% of the sperm wale carcasses that do make it to shore. Experts quote the current rate for ambergris at about $1,000 an ounce, depending on its quality. To give perspective, an ounce of gold currently runs $1,830. It’s unlikely that you ever thought poop would be worth almost as much as gold.