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Huge Haul Of Whale Vomit Worth Millions For Fishermen In Yemen

Huge Haul Of Whale Vomit Worth Millions For Fishermen In Yemen
Benjamin Witte

It's a modern tale with a rich and fragrant whiff of Jonah and the Whale, when a group of Yemeni fishermen made the catch of their lives this week in the Gulf of Aden.

After a large, dead whale was spotted floating in the waters of the coast of Yemen, 37 fishermen helped drag it ashore, the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National reported. But what they found in the belly of the beast could make them incredibly rich in one of the world's poorest countries: a giant blob of unexpelled and very valuable vomit.

Known as ambergris, the waxy substance is used to make high-end perfumes. And as gross as it may sound, it's literally worth its weight in gold.

Last year, a fisherman in Thailand made headlines when he came across about 100 kilograms (220 lbs) of the stuff washed up on a beach. London's The Daily Mail estimated that the find to be worth some 2.4 million pounds ($3.3 million).

The chunk discovered in Yemen is reported to be larger still — weighing nearly 130 kilograms (287 lbs) — and perfume makers have already made offers to buy it. But in a war-torn country where the average annual income is just $800, the ambergris is also a serious source of stress.

"We want to strike a deal to sell it as soon as possible, because the longer it stays the more challenging the situation will become," one of the lucky fishermen told The National. "We have already had a big quarrel over how the money should be shared."

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