last updated April 15th, 2002 and is permanently morphing...
(1 Caban (Quake) / 10 Pop (Mat) - 157/260 -
A waxy, grayish substance
formed in the intestines of sperm whales
and found floating at sea or washed ashore. It is added to perfumes to
slow down the rate of evaporation.
[Middle English, from Old
French ambre gris : ambre, amber. See amber + gris, gray. grizzle.]
Ambergris, fatty or pitchlike
substance, black or gray, with yellow or red streaks. Sperm whales produce
it in their intestines, apparently when sick. Occasionally ambergris is
taken from the bowels of the sperm whale. Usually it is found floating
in large lumps in tropical waters,
or on the seashore. The whale is able to eject the softer, black ambergris,
but the harder, more valuable gray variety accumulates in the whale's intestine
and eventually causes its death. Fresh ambergris smells strong and unpleasant,
but after exposure to air it hardens and develops a sweet, musty odor.
It is valued as a fixative in making costly perfumes (see Perfumery).
track _Ambergris_ MP3
by Guided By Voices off of _Same Place The Fly
Got Smashed_ on Rocket (1990)
Ambergris is a wax- or pitchlike
substance found floating in tropic seas. It was used for fragrance,
flavor, and alleged aphrodisiac properties long before anyone knew what
it was. At various times, ambergris was held to be a gum; a bitumen;
sea foam mysteriously solidified; the caked excrement of seabirds;
a marine fungus, or honeycombs fallen into the sea from cliffside hives.
Anbergris is now known to come from the sperm whale. The whale eats squid,
and squid have sharp, indigestible "beaks." Ambergris is a secretion
produced when the beaks irritate the wall of the whale's intestine.
Squid beaks are often found in lumps of ambergris. It is not certain
if the ambergris normally passes through the digestive trace or remains
in the whale until death (lumps as large as 336 pounds have been reported.)
Whaling ships occasionally take ambergris from fresh kills. Then
the ambergris is black, tarry, and evil-smelling. Aged ambergris
found in the ocean or on beaches may be hard, translucent, and white, gray,
yellow, reddish, or striped. At best the odor is sweet, earthy, and
lingering - a quality perfumers call "velvetiness."
- William Poundstone - _Big