KUALA TERENGGANU: The lumpy object found by a woman while fishing in Marang waters at the end of November was not ambergris, a digestive secretion of the sperm whale, says the Terengganu Fisheries Department.
Its director Ruzaidi Mamat said his team had taken a sample of the object on Dec 15 for analysis at the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) laboratory.
He said the researchers from the Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) Rantau Abang, Dungun and UMT found that the object was not whale vomit because it did not show the presence of three active ingredients, namely amber, epicoprosterol and coprostanone.
"On the other hand, the content found in the sample showed it was formed from the accumulation of organic matter such as fatty acids and then congealed into a slightly fibrous biomass.
"Scientifically, the highest percentage of substances in the lump are pyrazole (94.56%) and pyrrole (3.34%)," he said in a statement on Thursday (Dec 24).
He added that the melting point of the substance was 76.04˚C while the melting point of pure ambergris is 82.32˚C.
On Dec 14, it was reported that a woman from Kemaman found the lump, believed to have been secreted by a whale, while fishing near the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) Marang jetty towards the end of November.
"The claim that the lump emitted a fragrant odour is assumed to be from the pyrazole which will emit an aroma when burned," Ruzaidi said.
In Malaysia, UMT is the only institution that is able to verify the authenticity of ambergris samples.
Ambergris is a waxy secretion from the digestive tracts of the sperm whale found floating in tropical seas or washed up on beaches.
The rare substance is known as nature’s "floating gold" and highly valued at US$50,000 (RM210,000) a kilogramme by perfume makers. It is also used in certain medicines and potions and even as a spice. – Bernama