Talk:Ambergris

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[edit]

$9 for how much ambergris? That's not made clear in the article _____

All right, I've thrown in a little more modern info on ambergris uses and Ambrox. Somebody who knows something about it might want to speak a little more concretely on how ambergris is developed in the whale; whale physiology is really the only non-historical aspect from which ambergris is still of interest.

Also, I'm not aware of whether collected ambergris is still valuable/marketable. It stands to reason that it could still be used, but Ambrox may be considered of a higher quality, or may require less processing for use.

If somebody else doesn't, maybe I'll get around to writing a sclareol page at least, if not an Ambrox page. Natural products in general could stand a lot of fleshing out around here. -TimeLord mbw 00:51, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I find this silly...[edit]

I have watched and contributed to this article and one line in it always bothered me(to madness) namely: "...however, with the decline of whaling, the primary source of natural ambergris, replacement compounds have been synthesized."

To me there is a big problem with this statement: it does not get the facts right. Note that ALTHOUGH the precursor of ambergris comes from a whale, the commercially valuable black/grey ambergris IS NOT and CANNOT be directly obtained form the whale (Read the 3rd paragraph).

Thus it cannot be that the decline of whaling forced the use of synthetic ambergris substitutes. Any (fecal smelling) ambergris precursor that was directy removed after killing the whale will have little or no commercial value. If we follow in this line of arguement, the decline of whaling should actually INCREASE the amount of ambergris avaliable, since more live whale will be "hurling" these stinky fatty chunks that will eventually turn to expensive ambergris. My guess on why synthetic alternatives were sought is that the supply of quality ambergris was low and it is difficult to get a consistant and reliable harvest of ambergris. Combined with the high demand for the stuff and the prohibitive price tag, someone will seek (a have sough out) a cheaper and more reliable source.

If nobody objects, I am going to remove this line in a few days and stick something more true in its place.

>>Not sure if this is how to respond to your statements but I find/look for ambergris here in New Zealand and there is no such thing as a 'precurser' to ambergris - its ambergris as soon as it comes out of a large sperm whale ('soft black') straight away..also good quality (decades old) grey & white ambergris IS getting harder to find due to whaling decimating the Sperm Whales in the 70's...and because only mature / large sperm whales (that take more than 40 years to size up) can even make amber gris then we are in a period where decades old (once soft black) pieces in the 70's are reflecting into less white/old amber gris...thank you.Matt, NZ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mattybaba (talkcontribs) 12:10, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

A precursor is what something is made of. In the case of ambergris it sounds as tho some type of intestinal discharge along with an irritant to cause said discharge. A pearl comes out a pearl, but the precursor is a grain of sand in an oyster. Coal is a precursor to diamonds, just add heat, pressure, and time. Only atomic particles just "are", everything else has a precursor and atomic particles probably have precursors also. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rtaylor11214 (talkcontribs) 06:40, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

$20 per gram??[edit]

According to the ABC news article linked, ambergris is said to be worth $US20 per *gram*, as opposed to the $2 to $9 per *ounce* quoted in this article. That's a factor of up to 100 or so more. Any ideas as to which is more likely to be accurate? I see somebody earlier today updated the German article to include this Australian price (as 17 Euro per gram). 130.220.79.98 11:06, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

I poked around Google a bit. USD$20/g seems to be closer to the correct price. I am correcting the article accordingly. --AStanhope 15:18, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Fasting whales[edit]

I moved this from the main article. Until AndyF can give citations on fasting whales and the location of ambergris discoveries:

As with any animal body, whenever an indigestible object enters it, the body secretes mucus to dull the sharp edges and protect itself from the dispersion of toxins. This mucal protection gets impacted on to the gut wall and will not be removed from the body until a fast is undertaken. Since most ambergris is found on the coasts of warm waters, it could be theorised that the sperm whale consciously fasts in these waters, eventually eliminating all the detritus of mucus and indigestible squid bits which, after the processes mentioned, becomes ambergris.

Sjschen 10:36, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

In literature, cinema and music[edit]

What's the point of this section? Why do we need an exhaustive listing of all media that mention ambergris? Sjschen 19:32, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Because wikipedia is the go-to site when you want to know if something was once referenced in popular tv shows. Imagine if hundreds of years from now, nobody remembers that ambergris was once in an episode of futurama! 66.75.246.149 18:02, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Illegal to buy/sell in USA....Is this certain?[edit]

I checked the references used for the claim that buying and selling ambergris is prohibited by the Endangered Species Act, and there are two problems. First, the reference at the end of the sentence containing that claim (1) points to the NY Times article, which only mentions legal problems with selling ambergris in Australia. Second, the BBC newspaper article (2), although not cited for that sentence, does say "Banned in US under endangered species legislation" in the Quick Facts box.

However, conversations with several lawyers and businessmen (who actually do sell ambergris in California) have informed me that this legislation only prohibits the purchase/sale of whale parts, and not secretions. Could somebody maybe find something more substantial that confirms or disconfirms the legality of ambergris trade in the USA? -- Prosebuster 00:37, 11 January 2007 (UTC)


Ok, I have decided to look it up myself. I read the relevant section of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (which predates the Endangered Species Act), and indeed, commercial use of ambergris is prohibited under section 216.13. So at least, even if those businesses are trafficking in ambergris, it is in fact prohibited by this legislation. -- Prosebuster 01:08, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

The newspaper articles are still rather inadequate sources of a claim about the legality of this, so I edited the sentence to also include that importation is illegal, and cited the MMPA directly. -- Prosebuster 01:11, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

216.13 does not appear to cover ambergris. Funding ambergris on the shore would not count as taking or importing under the act. Plus whether ambergris is considered a marine mamal part is questionable. From what I can tell, ambergris appears to be legal in the US. 74.110.206.169 (talk) 09:22, 11 August 2018 (UTC)

Information on ambergris(Selling and Buying)[edit]

If you need more information on ambergris or looking for international buyers of this product, you can go visit this ambergris website. This product is not illegal or prohibited because you can only find it and not get it directly from the spermwhale. Donlorenzo06


[1]www.ambergris.fr —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Donlorenzo06 (talkcontribs) 10:54, 13 March 2007 (UTC).

Introduction Lacking[edit]

The introduction says "Now largely replaced by synthetics" before it mentions that it is derived from whales. It doesn't actually make any sense, until you read on, to see the Source section. Some basic mention that it is derived from whales should be made early on in the introduction, as this seems to be an important property of the material.

Literature, Cinema and Music taken out?[edit]

Why was the above section taken out? Isnt' this important. I remember a rather large mention in the movie Hannibal where the hand cream smelling of this was traced to Hannibal Lecter.

Squiggle 16:30, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Mustard Gas[edit]

A lot of people get poisoned because mustard gas thats dumped in the sea, say 40 years ago forms a tar like substance like this —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.16.160.17 (talk) 23:00, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Surely you mean a very few people rather than "A lot of people"?

historical and cross cultural uses?[edit]

I find the reference to "middle easterners" to be vague and far to general to describe the people who actually use this product. Can we narrow it down to a nationality or ethnicity at least? "North America" is pretty well recognized as the US, Canada, and Mexico? Can someone give me a definite definition of "Middle East?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Neo1973 (talkcontribs) 23:47, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Culinary uses[edit]

Ambergris were sometimes used in cooking. Possibly mainly as a scenting agent (just like musk was used on the same periods). An example is "To make a very Good Great Oxford-shire Cake" found in "The Compleat Cook" dated 1658. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/10520 --Shieldfire (talk) 06:57, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, I came here to check the veracity of this site: http://www.historicfood.com/English%20Puddings.htm and also to be repulsed upon finding out what ambergris actually is. >< NagCopaleen (talk) 06:50, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Selling and buying in USA, Europe, Australia[edit]

I noticed that in the article are missing important information on selling, buying or possessing ambergris. Apparently in all these three continents is forbidden. Here a good article with a lot of other sources. http://www.cropwatch.org/ambergrisupdate.htm --Dia^ (talk) 15:51, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

availability[edit]

Are there any figures available to describe how much ambergris is found each year? Given the many cultural uses of ambergris, the supply cannot be that limited historically, but since there is no way of systematically harvesting it, a good deal of luck is involved--just how much is found floating at sea or washed up on shore? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 165.91.64.188 (talk) 06:02, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Historical and cross-cultural uses[edit]

What does "and cross-cultural" mean? "Not just in my country"? Barbabob (talk) 15:44, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

It didn't make sense, I've removed it.--Daffydavid (talk) 02:10, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Error on origin - needs correction[edit]

New Scientist magazine 15 September 2012 reports that the notion that ambergris is vomited is a myth. According to oceanographer Robert Clark 2006 it generally remains stuck in the intestine until it causes the whale's death, although it is occasionally expelled. Sperm whale regularly and normally vomit accumulated masses of squid beaks, but this is not ambergris.

This explanation is accepted by Christopher Kemp whose book is referenced already [1]

Suggest this explanation should replace the vague explanation in the article, or at the very least given as an alternative explanation. Shaunfensom (talk) 08:52, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

The problem with this is how do we then explain the ambergris found washed up on shore?--Daffydavid (talk) 22:04, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

References

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Ambergris/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Should this be considered a chemical compound at all? Wim van Dorst (Talk) 21:57, 13 April 2007 (UTC).

Last edited at 21:57, 13 April 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 07:31, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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"Ambergris March"[edit]

Not sure if "Ambergris March" from Drawing Restraint 9 (album) should be mentioned here. ---Another Believer (Talk) 21:41, 23 September 2018 (UTC)

Proposal to just outright remove the popular culture section[edit]

I think that it's a non-helpful section. If someone were to flesh out the references I think it could stand to be there but as it stands the thing is a largely unsourced list.

Options:

1 - Do nothing.

2 - Someone can improve the citations in the section.

3 - Remove passages that don't have a citation.

4 - Remove the entire section.

Thoughts?Rap Chart Mike (talk) 13:54, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

Remove entire section. It outweighs the article, and does nothing to help understand what ambergris is. --jpgordon𝄢𝄆 𝄐𝄇 14:13, 22 May 2019 (UTC)

While my first instinct is to remove the popular culture section entirely, after some thought I propose it be reduced to a four-sentence or less paragraph, including the Battuta and Melville references, while briefly mentioning ambergris' mention in television and film. That would seem like a reasonable and informative addition to the article. If no-one sees fit to spend the time to do this, then an outright removal would be preferable to what is there now. 67.4.101.115 (talk) 04:08, 20 July 2019 (UTC)

"animalic"?[edit]

Does 'animalic' mean 'animal-like'? Or is it some sort of technical term? --159.2.46.127 (talk) 15:08, 23 December 2019 (UTC)

Yemen fishermen find $1.5m of ambergris in the belly of a whale[edit]

This may be worth mentioning... Yemen fishermen find $1.5m of ambergris in the belly of a whale.

Jeffrey Walton (talk) 07:11, 2 June 2021 (UTC)