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Ambergris
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ambergris

ambergris (àm´ber-grîs´, -grês´) noun
A waxy, grayish substance formed in the intestines of sperm internal linkwhales 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

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 internal linkwaters, 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).



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track _Ambergris_ MP3atomjacked inventory cache by Guided By Voices off of _Same Place The internal linkFly Got Smashed_ on Rocket (1990)


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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 internal linksquid, 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 Secrets_atomjacked inventory cache

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