Ambergris treasure found in dead Texel whale

Ambergris from the dead Texel sperm whale

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Treasure discovered inside stranded whale – 13/04/02

The carcass of the sperm whale which beached in December on a sandbank near Texel has proved to be a valuable treasure-house. During the dissection of the animal by employees of Ecomare an exceptional amount of ambergris was found in its rectum. These smelly lumps are very rare and of great value to the perfume industry.


Last December the dead sperm whale washed ashore a few days after the humpback which had beached while still alive. Therefore it had hardly been in the news. The nearly 30-tonne adult male had died at sea and stranded on the Razende Bol. Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales on earth and are uncommon in the North Sea. Great was the surprise when out of the whale’s rectum came huge chunks of ambergris. It was already special to find a dead sperm whale, the discovery of the ambergris in the body made it exceptional. Normally, ambergris is defecated and therefore sometimes it is found in small quantities of no more than a few pounds on beaches. However, this sperm whale contained five chunks of ambergris with a total weight of 83 kilogram, accumulated in the rectum.

Cuttlefish beaks

Ambergris is found only in 1 of 100 sperm whale bodies, usually in small amounts. It is not clear why some sperm whales produce ambergris and others do not. Probably in order to defecate sharp parts in their food, like cuttlefish beaks, without damage to their entrails. Healthy sperm whales spit out these cuttlefish beaks when they are in their first or second stomach. In some sperm whales there is a leak between the 2nd and 3rd stomach, causing the sharp cuttlefish beaks to go further inside the gastrointestinal tract. The irritation which the sharp beaks cause there makes the sperm whale produce ambergris as a response. Usually that is just defecated, but sometimes large quantities of amber accumulate in the rectum and cause congestion like that.


Experts from France have looked at the ambergris for Ecomare, and on the basis of their estimation of quality, the value is estimated at hundreds of thousands of euros. For scientists, this discovery is of exceptional importance. So, the amber lumps went to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Utrecht for a CT scan and X-ray examination.


The amber of the Texel sperm whale will be sold. It is too precious to exhibit it. After consultation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs it became clear that any proceeds for Ecomare could benefit the objective of Ecomare: education and information about the Wadden Sea and North Sea. A small piece of the ambergris will remain at Ecomare and will be exhibited there next to the skeleton of the sperm whale. Of the total amount of ambergris, a cast has also been made which will become a museum exhibit as well. During the next months, the whale’s skeleton will be put together. The public will be able to see that.

New Ecomare whale exhibition hall, financed by this ambergris: here.


30 thoughts on “Ambergris treasure found in dead Texel whale

    • Ecomare does also rehab for beached seals and whales (usually porpoises, the smallest species). Maybe they can use the ambergris money for that? The big whale helping smaller whales after his death?


  1. Pingback: Texel butterfly and bee news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Very Inspiring Blogger Award, thanks Shaun! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Most Influential Blogger Award, thanks oasien! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Butterflies and bluebells | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: What a beached whale ate, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Freezing bat flying freely again | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Shine On Award, thanks oasien and Tazein! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Big Scottish sperm whales pod | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: Hedgehogs on Texel island, the Netherlands | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: Southern right whale recovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: Rare carnivorous plant rediscovered on Texel | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: Baby shark born | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: Shine On Award, thanks Tazein and Anil! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: Shine On Award, thanks Mush! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: Arctic seal fossil on Dutch beach | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: Which blog posts attracted most visits in 2013? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: Dolphin fossil discovery in New Zealand | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: Over 100,000 comments on my blog, and other statistics | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Frisia, la Holanda entre mareas | Kilometraje ilimitadoFrisia, la Holanda entre mareas - Kilometraje ilimitado

  20. Pingback: Whale exhibition in Denver, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: Seals and birds of Dutch desert island | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: Two sperm whales dead again, Texel island | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: Sperm whale strandings in England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  24. Pingback: Wren and sperm whale on Texel island | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  25. Pingback: What sperm whales eat | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  26. Pingback: Fossil meat eating ancestor of baleen whales | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  27. Pingback: American comb jellies on Dutch beach | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  28. Pingback: Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.