Ok, here's a weird whale story for you all, with a season whiff about it, from the New York Times:

"In this season of strange presents from relatives, Dorothy Ferreira got a doozy the other day from her 82-year-old sister in Waterloo, Iowa. It was ugly. It weighed four pounds. There was no receipt in the box. Inside she found what looked like a gnarled, funky candle but could actually be a huge hunk of petrified whale vomit worth as much as $18,000."

"Ambergris begins as a waxlike substance secreted in the intestines of some sperm whales, perhaps to protect the whale from the hard, indigestible “beaks” of giant squid it feeds upon. The whales expel the blobs, dark and foul-smelling, to float the ocean. After much seasoning by waves, wind, salt and sun, they may wash up as solid, fragrant chunks."

Please Let It Be Whale Vomit, Not Just Sea Junk »

"Raw ambergris fetches approximately US$10 per gram (as of 2006), with much higher prices possible for particularly high-quality samples.[1] In the United States, buying or selling ambergris- including ambergris that has washed ashore — is a violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1978." Wikipedia: Ambergris »

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