Taiwanese man stumbles across rare 'stone' worth NT$6 million

Resident of Taiwan’s Orchid Island finds 'whale vomit,' or ambergris, on beach while fishing

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Fragrance stone discovered on Orchid Island proven to be ambergris. 

Fragrance stone discovered on Orchid Island proven to be ambergris.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A mysterious fragrant stone discovered by a resident of Taiwan's Orchid Island has been verified as a lump of ambergris, which has an estimated market value of NT$6 million (US$210,000).

The man, surnamed Li (李), came across the unique-looking stone in March while fishing on a beach near his home. He said that he was curious about the 4-kilogram black stone since it had a sweet, lingering smell and decided to take it home.

After sharing his discovery with a friend, Li sent small samples of the lump to the National University of Kaohsiung for testing. On Wednesday (Oct. 7), associate professor of life sciences Cheng Shi-Yie (鄭竣亦) confirmed the object to be ambergris through nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and called it an extremely rare and valuable find.

According to Cheng, ambergris is a waxy substance secreted inside the intestines of sperm whales that is often referred to as "whale vomit" or "floating gold." It is mainly used as a fixative in perfume production and can fetch a handsome price based on its age.

Currently, the international market value of ambergris is around US$50,000 per kilogram. Li said he is considering selling his and using the money for family expenses, reported Liberty Times.