Expensive Washed-Up Treasure Discovered by Dog


A fisherman in Scotland got quite the surprise while walking with his dog on the beach recently. While Patrick Williamson and his dog were strolling on Irvine Beach in the town of Ayrshire, the pooch took off running toward a strange-looking rock on the sand.

It turned out not to be a rock, but a five-ounce piece of ambergris. Once a widespread ingredient for perfumes, the rare substance is produced in the intestines of sperm whales and is known for being quite expensive as it’s hard to find on land. Williamson said it didn’t take him long to realize what man’s best friend had come across. 

“I work on a fishing boat, so I knew what ambergris was,” he told Metro. “I’ve never seen it before, but I’ve heard stories about it.”

“[I] clocked something on the seaweed, and the dog ran over to it and dropped her ball,” he recounted. “She doesn’t usually drop her ball, so I knew there was something there.”

Upon closer inspection, he saw that the gray rock with brown and amber streaks could actually be ambergris. Just to confirm he wasn’t being fooled, he took a hot needle to the lump and it started to melt into a dark, waxy liquid, just as ambergris does when heated. 

Related: A Blue Whale Is Slowly Decomposing on the California Coast

In the U.K., sperm whales are protected by law, making hunting for ambergris yourself illegal. But if the gold chunk washes ashore, it’s free for the taking—and the selling. The best ambergris can go for tens of thousands of dollars per pound, so it remains to be seen just how much Williamson can make off this small piece. Still, people around him are thrilled about his find. 

“Everybody’s been messaging me—one of my pals even contacted someone at the local paper,” he said. He admitted he wasn’t sure what he’s going to do with it, but vowed to keep his eyes peeled every time he goes for a walk on the beach. “I’m on the beaches all the time. I take my dog with me wherever I go, so we’ll be looking every time we land now,” he said. 

Sometimes the best buried treasure isn’t even buried. 

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