Why Do People Eat Whale Poop? | Summary and Q&A

February 17, 2018
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Why Do People Eat Whale Poop?


Ambergris, often mistaken for whale vomit, is actually whale excrement that is valued for its scent and used in perfumes, medicine, and even food.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is ambergris and why is it called "floating gold"?

Ambergris is a rare substance derived from whale excrement, specifically sperm whales. It is called "floating gold" due to its value and the hue of the substance.

Q: How is ambergris made within the whale?

Ambergris is formed when squid beaks consumed by sperm whales pass through their digestive system and become a compacted mass. Fecal matter saturates the mass, binding it together, and eventually, it is secreted by the whale.

Q: How has ambergris been used throughout history?

Ambergris has been used by various cultures for different purposes. It has been incorporated into perfumes, used as an aphrodisiac, included in meals of decadent monarchs, and employed for medicinal remedies.

Q: Is the use and trade of ambergris legal?

The legal status of ambergris varies in different parts of the world. While Australia has banned its use, the United States has vague laws regarding its legality. Although it is generally considered illegal under the Endangered Species Act, little enforcement occurs due to ambiguity regarding the protection of whale waste.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Ambergris is a rare and valuable substance found floating in oceans and washed up on beaches worldwide, often referred to as "floating gold" due to its value.

  • It is derived from whale excrement, particularly sperm whales, and has been used for centuries in perfumes, medicines, foods, and even cocktails.

  • The production of ambergris occurs when a sperm whale consumes squid, and their indigestible beaks form a solid mass that is eventually expelled along with partially digested matter.

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