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Madge the Boxer Finds $180,000 Worth of Whale Vomit

The scientific name for the stuff is ambergris, and Madge is a very, very good dog for locating it.

 |  Feb 4th 2013  |   1 Contribution


The news that a Boxer named Madge discovered $180,000 worth of whale vomit on a beach raises very many questions, the foremost being: Why is whale vomit worth $180,000? 

Answer: Because people put whale vomit in perfumes, such as Chanel No. 5. Holy Toledo.

Second question: How did a Boxer know the whale vomit was worth tens of thousands of dollars per pound? 

Answer: She (probably) didn't. Whale vomit just smells awesome, you know? To a dog. To owner Ken Wilman, the whale vomit smelled "horrible."

Third question: Why doesn't my dog ever find $180,000 worth of whale vomit?

Answer: Whale vomit is for closers!

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In any case, three cheers for Madge the dog, who went crazy over a big hunk of whale vomit she found on a beach near Morecambe, England. Her owner, Ken Wilman, picked up the six-pound rock of whale vomit, sniffed the whale vomit, and then put it back down on the beach and moved on.

Madge then looked at Ken and thought, "Why aren't we taking the $180,000 brick of whale vomit home, Ken?"

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Luckily, the memory of the whale vomit stayed in Ken's mind, the "abstract, eternally sensual bouquet" (Chanel No. 5) sticking with him like a madeline. He did a web search on what he remembered of the rock. Bingo: Whale vomit. It has a fancy, technical name that does not include the word "vomit," and that's "ambergris."

"When I saw how much it could be worth, I went back to the beach and grabbed it!" Wilman told the Metro.

"It's quite a find," said Chris Hill, curator at the Aquarium of the Lakes in Cumbria, according to NBC News. "There are places in Europe that will buy it from you. They will age it, like a fine wine, and then test it for perfume. How much it's worth will depend on how fresh it is, but it's potentially $180,000."

And all thanks to Madge the dog. What a good dog.

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One final thing to blow your mind: Molecular biologist Christopher Kemp told NBC News that he doesn't believe ambergris is whale vomit at all. He believes it's whale poop. And he wrote the book on it: Floating Gold: the Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris.

In any case, good nose work, Madge.  

Photo: Sperm whale by Shutterstock.com.  

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