Pele's new twitter name is anbargris, & I recalled this picture of a humongous piece of ambergris that an old lady found on the beach in New York. From the Times in December 2006:
In this season of strange presents from relatives, Dorothy Ferreira got a doozy the other day from her 82-year-old sister in Waterloo, Iowa. It was ugly. It weighed four pounds. There was no receipt in the box.-"Please Let It Be Whale Vomit, Not Just Sea Junk", by Corey Kilgannon, New York Times, December 18th, 2006
Inside she found what looked like a gnarled, funky candle but could actually be a huge hunk of petrified whale vomit worth as much as $18,000.
“I called my sister and asked her, ‘What the heck did you send me?’ ” recalled Ms. Ferreira, 67, who has lived here on the eastern tip of Long Island since 1982. “She said: ‘I don’t know, but I found it on the beach in Montauk 50 years ago and just kept it around. You’re the one who lives by the ocean; ask someone out there what it is.’ ”
The chapter on ambergris in Herman Melville's Moby Dick; or, The Whale is here.
Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale! Yet so it is. By some, ambergris is supposed to be the cause, and by others the effect, of the dyspepsia in the whale. How to cure such a dyspepsia it were hard to say, unless by administering three or four boat loads of Brandreth's pills, and then running out of harm's way, as laborers do in blasting rocks. [...]
Now that the incorruption of this most fragrant ambergris should be found in the heart of such decay; is this nothing? Bethink thee of that saying of St. Paul in Corinthians, about corruption and incorruption; how that we are sown in dishonour, but raised in glory. And likewise call to mind that saying of Paracelsus about what it is that maketh the best musk. Also forget not the strange fact that of all things of ill-savor, Cologne-water, in its rudimental manufacturing stages, is the worst.