Im not really sure where to post this one, so i will post it here....i was scrolling through eBay today and came across a listing of a seller selling pure ambergris. I dont know why but i thought to even own that stuff in the true for was illegal let alone sell it. Could anyone shed some light on this for me?
Thanks...here is the link
It's definitely NOT legal everywhere. Although I agree with Chris Bartlett here: there's no reason why it shouldn't be.
Anyway, you're fine in Scotland, or in the UK. But, that's a bit pricey, for sure. Ridiculous price!
Although ... just one quick point, after reading Chris's blog post. Ambergris definitely WAS a product of the whaling era, and there were many whalers who dreamed of cutting into a sperm whale and finding a lump. I've personally read whaleship logbooks at the New Bedford Whaling Museum with entries that describe selling the ambergris removed from dead whales, and any remotely accurate whaling history will describe the same thing.
Read Leviathan: A History of Whaling in America by Eric Jay Dolin from 2007. It's excellent!
But it only occurs in 1% of sperm whales, so there was never more than the outside chance that a whale would have some ambergris inside it. But, yes ... just read the archived news stories in newspapers like the Boston Globe to understand to what degree finding ambergris inside a whale changed a whaler's life.
Last edited by cjkemp; 21st February 2012 at 06:09 PM. Reason: Typos
Very good question. I try to answer it in my book ... I hope I manage to some extent. I won't answer here because at this rate none of you will need to buy my book!
Just to be clear, I don't doubt this at all - but I was only writing a short blog post rather than a book - and my oversimplification was intended to make clear that there is no need to worry when buying ambergris that you might be supporting illegal whaling in the way that there would be if you were offered whale meat or the like.
Technically it was occasionally (about 1% of the time if I read you correctly) a bi-product of 19th century whaling in much the same way that castoreum is a bi-product of modern beaver culls. No animals were killed expressly for the product, but the product is (rarely in the case of the whale) found in the carcass.
Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 22nd February 2012 at 09:17 AM. Reason: added quote
That's completely right, Chris.
I didn't mean to be pedantic. Your blog post contains the following claim: "Ambergris, for those who donít already know, is a product of the sperm whale. This naturally leads many people to assume that is was one of the products of the 19th century whaling industry and all the cruelty associated with that, but not so."
Why, just today, in the The Atlantic, a very respected journal, an article about whaling includes the line: "Whales contributed oil for illuminants, ambergris for perfumes, and baleen, a bonelike substance extracted from the jaw, for umbrellas."
It was very much a part of the industry and all of the cruelty associated with it.
Ambergirs from a slaughtered sperm whale is indeed worthless.
It needs to float in the sea for at least a decade to mature into
the ambergris used in perfume - the only things it's good for!
The sun and the salt gives it the oomph it needs.
And it's not illegal to trade in - just expensive beyond compare!
Slightly incorrect on both counts, I'm afraid.
Ambergris from a dead whale certainly has some value, significantly less than mature white ambergris. But it is traded all the time.
You know, I've met with ambergris traders and even handled the fresh black ambergris that they sell.
And ambergris trade is illegal in the United States, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Definitely. Not really energetically enforced, but illegal all the same. I was just touching base with someone at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about it yesterday, in fact, to make sure I reported that correctly in my book. It still is illegal, although NOAA might reclassify it, hopefully, after reading my book.
It's illegal in Australia too, because of how they classify sperm whales with regards to the CITES treaty.
Last edited by cjkemp; 22nd February 2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: typos
I get my facts from Roja Dove, one of the most renouned perfume historians
in the world, and as you probably know, a perfume maker himself.
He tells us, that fresh ambergris taken directly out of a dead whale is as good
And just because it's illegal in the States, doesn't make it illegal anywhere else.
Australia perhaps, and probably elsewhere, too. But, it's perfectly legal in most
places in the world.
There is no harm done to the whales, since the ambergris is found floading
around the sea - why make it illegal then?
It's like forbid trade in elk antlers, which they shed naturally each year. Pointless.
Unless, as you say, the fresh ambergris holds a significant value in its own self.
I'm not being a smart ass, just saying.
Your book?! That's that about? I'm curious!
Ummmm. I don't make the laws. I'm just telling you what they are. I certainly make the case that they should be changed. But they are what they are. All best!
Re the first post. There need to be a few questions answered about where that lump came from in the text. 96g should be about that much in dollars, not pounds and be the best white too. I can just see the likes of Chanel buying that off an unknown e-bay source.
in the context in which I made it.
There are connections between all aspects of human history. The idea that because usable whale poo/sick was once occasionally extracted from animals hacked apart for various other products that it is Ďassociated with crueltyí is absurd when even then the huge majority of it, and now all of it, is found after the whale has disposed of it by natural means.
The point of my blog was to reassure those who might be misled into thinking that the same moral problem attaches to ambergris as to other perfumery raw materials from animals such as those of the Musk Deer, that it does not. Musk deer were and still are killed for no other reason than to extract musk pods - the rest of the carcass having no value - nothing of the sort ever happened to whales and certainly would not happen now, no matter what price ambergris might reach.
Itís also rather churlish to respond to my post promoting your book with academic point scoring.