A soft, waxy and and highly pungent excretion of the sperm whale sometimes found floating on the surface of the sea; also found in the sperm whale's intestine. Accumulates there as byproduct of sperm whale's diet of squid. Has considerable market value as a fixative in the manufacturing of perfumes. Melville described sperm whale yielding six handfuls of ambergris, at a gold guinea an ounce.

Robert Byrd on the aphrodisiacal effect of ambergris from the spermaceti whale, in History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina (written in 1720s?)

"Besides the fragrancy of this animal substance [ambergris], 'tis a very rich and innocent cordial, which raises the spirits without stupefying them afterwards, like opium, or intoxicating them like wine. The animal spirits are amazingly refreshed by this cordial, without the danger of any ill consequence, and if husbands were now and then to dissolve a little of it in their broth, their consorts might be the better for it, as well as themselves." P. 278.:

External Links

__Moby-Dick__, Ch. 92, "Ambergris"

Related Marine Life

Sperm Whale

Record ID: 314