Heard of Moby Dick? Well, how about Moby's sick?

Ambergris is formed in the intestines of whales and is expelled when the animal can't regurgitate food.

It can be found floating on the sea or washed up on UK coastlines ready to be collected by fortunate walkers and treasure hunters.

In 2016, a 6lb lump of ambergris found on a Lancashire beach sold for £100,000 to a buyer from the perfume industry.

Its immense value comes from its scarcity and its use in perfumes. 

According to National Geographic, if the person in charge of choosing aromas at a perfumery likes the smell, ambergris can be worth thousands per ounce. Ambergris' scent can vary from sweet to musky,

According to Bangor University: "Only sperm whales make the compound responsible for ambergris’ allure: ambrein.

"Squid is the main diet of sperm whales but as the beaks can’t be digested, they need to be passed out without causing injury. They do this by coating them with ambrein.

"Ambergris starts as a mixture of squid beaks, ambrein and another digestive product called epicoprostanol.

What is ambergris?

"Once expelled – usually as faecal matter but also through vomiting, hence the name – ambergris floats in the ocean, turning from a “lump of poo” that smells of faeces into floating gold that has incorporated the varied smells of the sea.

"Visually this means ambergris starts more as a black lump and slowly bleaches.

"This ageing process is suspected to have two chemical effects: the reduction in the scent of faeces, which is more water-soluble and gradually lost, and the incorporation of the scents of the sea, which is fat-loving and absorbed by the waxy ambergris in the making (much like butter in your fridge takes on the smell of other things).

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"The longer it floats in the sea, the waxier it gets."

Laws regulating the collection and sale of ambergris vary around the world.

In some countries, ambergris and all other whale-derived products are prohibited, but elsewhere it is either legal or a grey area.

In the UK and Europe, all living species of whales, dolphins and porpoises are protected by law.

However, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) considers ambergris a waste product of sperm whales that occurs naturally, making it legal to collect it from the beach or sea and sell it at auctions or sites such as eBay.