The sperm whale, measuring 10 meters (33ft) in length and weighing approximately 10 tonnes, washed up on Nogales Beach in La Palma, Canary Islands, on 21 May.
Upon conducting an autopsy at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, experts confirmed that the cause of the whale’s death was the 9kg chunk of ambergris, a solid waxy substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.
Ambergris, secreted from the animal’s bile duct in the intestines, is a rare and highly-valued material in the perfume industry. Only around 1% of sperm whales produce ambergris.
Perfume companies utilize ambergris to enhance the longevity of a fragrance, making high-quality ambergris valued at approximately £21 per gram.
If the lump found in the beached whale is determined to be of good quality, it could be worth around £191,000.
While the ownership and valuation of the ambergris chunk are yet to be determined, a university spokesperson stated that if it holds value, the island government will sell it and distribute the proceeds to those most affected by the Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption in 2021.
The eruption, which lasted from September to December, was the first on the island since 1971 and caused significant damage.
For now, the ambergris will remain in La Palma as further assessments are conducted.