Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris

Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris

Christopher Kemp


“Preternaturally hardened whale dung” isn't the first photograph that involves brain after we reflect on fragrance, differently a logo of glamour and attract. however the key aspect that makes the subtle odor linger at the epidermis is strictly this extraordinary digestive by-product—ambergris. regardless of being one of many world’s most costly ingredients (its worth is almost that of gold and has from time to time in historical past been triple it), ambergris can be one of many world’s least recognized. yet with this strange and hugely appealing booklet, Christopher Kemp delivers to alter that through uncovering the original background of ambergris.

A infrequent secretion produced simply through sperm whales, that have a passion for squid yet an lack of ability to digest their beaks, ambergris is expelled at sea and floats on ocean currents for years, slowly remodeling, earlier than it occasionally washes ashore having a look like a nondescript waxy pebble. it may look virtually anyplace yet is located so hardly, it could actually to boot look nowhere. Kemp’s trip starts off with an come upon on a brand new Zealand seashore with a massive lump of fake ambergris—determined after a lot pleasure to not anything extra unique than lard—that evokes a complete quest to find ambergris and its tale. he's taking us from the wild, rocky New Zealand sea coast to Stewart Island, a distant, windswept island within the southern seas, to Boston and Cape Cod, and again back. alongside the way in which, he tracks down the secretive creditors and investors who populate the clandestine modern day ambergris trade.

Floating Gold is an enjoyable and vigorous heritage that covers not just those priceless grey lumps and those that covet them, yet provides a hugely informative account of the usual historical past of whales, squid, ocean ecology, or even a historical past of the body spray industry. Kemp’s obsessive interest is infectious, and keen readers will suppose as if they've got stumbled upon a valuable bounty of this exciting substance.

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