Tamil Nadu

Over 5kg of ‘whale vomit’ washes ashore in Cuddalore

Officials of the Forest department and Marine Police examining the ambergris that washed ashore at Devanampattinam Beach in Cuddalore on Tuesday

Officials of the Forest department and Marine Police examining the ambergris that washed ashore at Devanampattinam Beach in Cuddalore on Tuesday   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The Fisheries Department along with the Marine Police took possession of the find

Officials of the Forest Department and Cuddalore Marine Police on Tuesday retrieved 5.88 kg of ambergris (sometimes known as whale vomit) that washed had ashore on Devanampattinam beach.

The chunk of ambergris, a waxy solid substance that is an intestinal secretion of sperm whales, was first spotted by Ashok Kumar, a fisherman of Devanampattinam on the shore at around 6 a.m. He informed other fishermen, who mistook it for a floating object and alerted the Marine Police and Forest Department.

According to E. Karthavarayan, Deputy Director of the Fisheries Department, the Marine Police and Forest Department personnel went to the coastal village and took possession of the rare find. He said that the import and export of ambergris was banned and possession of the substance was punishable under the Customs Act. The Forest Department will seek the permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden to destroy it, he said.

Mr. Karthavarayan said the ambergris found was pale white in colour denoting that it may be a few days old.

Sperm whales mainly prey on squids, and the undigested portions are eliminated through their vomit. Ambergris is mainly used in perfumes and cosmetics and fetches a handsome price based on its age. It has an unpleasant smell after it is secreted, but soon acquires a sweet smell, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:17:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/over-5kg-of-whale-vomit-washes-ashore-in-cuddalore/article30502203.ece

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