A group of fishermen in Yemen have been lifted out of poverty after finding a rare form of treasure inside the carcass of a sperm whale.
The discovered £1.1m worth of ambergris: a lump of solid whale “vomit” which is used in the making of perfume.
The group of 35 fishermen in southern Aden province were alerted to a sperm whale carcass floating in the Gulf of Aden, before dragging it into shore in a small boat.
“As soon as we got close to it there was this strong smell and we had the feeling that this whale had something,” one of the fisherman told the BBC.
The unnamed Yemeni man added: “We decided to hook the whale in, take it to shore and cut into it to see what was inside its belly, and yes, it was ambergris. The smell wasn’t very nice – but lots of money.”
Ambergris – known as “vomit gold” or “floating gold” – is formed inside sperm whales’ intestines over many years to produce a waxy substance of a grey or black colour. It is used in perfumes to preserve the scent.
The fishermen from the village of al-Khaisah agreed to split the profits on the 127kg lump of ambergris, before selling it for £1.1m, according to the Middle East Eye.
One of the fishermen told the website they have been to buy homes, while some plan to get married now they have been lifted out of poverty.
“Thirty million Yemeni rials [£85,000] is enough these days to build a home and marry, and this is what the majority of the fishermen are spending the money on,” he said.
Some of the money was given to other needy people in the al-Khaisah village, home to refugees from the city of Hodeida in the war-torn country.
“When they sold the ambergris, they helped us with money and helped some families with medicines,” said one villager.
The UN has estimated that 80 per cent of the Yemen’s population are vulnerable to hunger following years of civil conflict.
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