A beach scavenger found a waxy lump weighing 37 lbs that he believes is valuable whale vomit worth more than half a million pounds.
Surachet Chanchu was walking along the sand in Songkhla, southern Thailand, looking for recyclable waste when he noticed the grey chunk washed ashore on Wednesday morning.
He was struck by its likeness to valuable ambergris, formed in the digestive tracts of whales and a sought-after ingredient in the perfume industry.
Surachet carried the lump back to his home and friends came round to perform a simple test on the substance by holding a cigarette lighter to it.
It then melted and gave off a pleasant, musky smell, indicating that it was likely to be the prized ambergris.
Based on previous sale prices, the best quality ambergris can sell for as much as £14,500 for a 1 lb lump.
This would value Surachet’s find at around 536,500 pound if it is proven to be a high-quality ambergris.
Surachet is now waiting for government officers to assess his find.
He said: ‘I saw the chunk washed ashore at the coastal rock when I was scavenging.
‘I thought it looked like a whale vomit but I need someone who knows about it to come down and check.’
Experts says that lumps of ambergris can sometimes float in the ocean for more than 100 years.
The valuable substance is formed from a secretion of the bile duct in the intestines of the sperm whale.
The liquid then solidifies in the ocean and matures over many years.
This is the second time in a week that locals found a chunk that looks like whale vomit in the area after 2 lbs chunk was found last Friday.
In October, fisherman Jumrus Thiachot, 55, found a 14 lbs lump of ambergris while he was walking along the beach in Koh Samui also in southern Thailand.
In April 2016, a 3.5 lbs ambergris ball found in Lancashire sold for 50,000 pounds while in November of the same year, three Omani fishermen found 176 lbs of ambergris and sold it for 3 million dollars.