A Thai fisherman’s daily trip to catch fish earlier this month took an incredible turn when he stumbled upon a rare and expensive substance.
On January 6, Chalermchai Mahapan, 20, set out to catch mullet but when the weather suddenly changed he returned to the shore early.
As he docked his boat at Samila Beach in Songkhla province, Mahapan noticed the white lump in the sand being pushed by currents to the beach.
At first he thought it was just an ordinary rock but after looking again, he had had a hunch it could be something valuable.
The curious fisherman took the large substance home and burnt a small piece on a spoon, indicating it was ambergris, a rare secretion from whales that floats in the ocean.
“I had no idea what this thing was until I asked the elderly villagers here who informed me about ambergris. I feel very lucky to have fount it,” Mahapan said.
He also sent a sample of the yellowish lump to a lab, which confirmed his incredible fortune.
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales when bile ducts in the gastrointestinal tract make secretions to ease the passage of large or sharp objects.
The whale then vomits the mucilage, which solidified and floats on the surface of the ocean.
The solid chuck has a foul smell at first but after the mucilage dries out, it develops a sweet and long-lasting frangrance, which makes it a sought-after ingredient in the perfume industry.
Mahapan is now waiting for a buyer at a price of 1 million Thai Baht, or AUD$43,344, per kilogram.
The value of the entire lump is estimated to be AUD$371,526.
“I’m not in a hurry to sell this. An agent will find an international buyer for it,” he said.
It is not the first time the expensive bile has floated into someone’s hands.
Couple’s $800k romantic stroll
In December, a couple going for a walk on a Thailand beach found an incredible $792,345 worth of ambergris.
Veera Juengboon, 31 and his wife Monruedee, 26, travelled to Phuket, to see a friend when they noticed a yellowish lump on the beach.
Mr Juengboon enjoys watching science documentaries and recognised the substance from shows he had seen before.
The excited husband told his wife about it and they carried the 15kg rock back to their hotel room, where they started examining it and later confirmed it’s value.
In April 2016, a 1.57kg ambergris ball was found in Lancashire and was later sold for $88,458.
In November the same year, three Omani fishermen found 80kg of ambergris for $3,866,028.
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