Ambergris used to be used in all sorts of things: perfume, magic potions, cigarettes. It's even rumored to be an aphrodisiac, albeit an expensive one. That's because ambergris is only produced in the intestinal tracts of whales, and getting your hands on it can be difficult. But one lucky(?) kid stumbled across a small fortune's worth of the stuff recently:
Charlie Naysmith, 8, was strolling with his dad along the beach in New Zealand when he stumbled on what he thought was a funny-looking rock. The rock was quite compelling, thanks to its surprisingly light weight and faint waxy texture, so young Charlie decided to take it home. As it turns out, the weird rock was actually not a rock at all, but an incredibly rare substance called ambergris, which is, essentially, a very valuable piece of whale poop. Charlie's 1.3-pound piece of ambergris is estimated to be worth somewhere around $65,000.
All about Charlie's find and the history of ambergris at The Week.