Discovery Debate: UK Dad Claims Rare ‘Floating Gold’ on Beach, Experts Dismiss as Sewage Grease

Discovery Debate: UK Dad Claims Rare ‘Floating Gold’ on Beach, Experts Dismiss as Sewage Grease

…By Alan Peterson for TDPel Media. A dad, Ronnie Humphreys, stumbles upon what he believes is a valuable find on a UK beach—a 2kg haul of a substance known as ambergris.


However, experts dispute his claim, dismissing it as “sewage grease.”

Ambergris, often referred to as ‘floating gold,’ is a secretion produced by sperm whales and is used in the production of perfume, sometimes fetching high prices.

Undeterred by the experts’ opinion, Ronnie remains confident in the authenticity of his discovery and hopes to sell it for a substantial sum.


The Discovery:

While walking on Leven Beach in Fife on July 16, Ronnie and his son, Alfie, accidentally come across the substance.

Initially mistaking it for wax, they realize its potential value but hesitate to believe their good fortune.

Ronnie decides to retrieve it after a sudden impulse.

Ronnie’s Conviction:

Ignoring expert opinions, Ronnie maintains that the substance is indeed whale vomit.

He asserts that it passed various tests conducted at home, including the presence of squid beaks, which are indicative of ambergris.


Ronnie cites the endorsement of a person at Citizens Advice, who agreed with his assessment.

Despite his confidence, Ronnie is willing to have the substance tested before auctioning it.

Testing and Characteristics:

Upon bringing the clumps home, Ronnie conducts multiple tests, such as using a hot needle to examine the melting properties of the waxy substance.

Additionally, he notes a distinctive odor resembling horse manure, another characteristic commonly associated with ambergris.

Expert Rebuttal:

Ambergris Europe, a specialist in identification, disputes Ronnie’s claim.


Upon reviewing photographs, they conclude that the find is actually “sewage grease,” degraded oil originating from wastewater.

According to them, this material is frequently found on Mediterranean and Atlantic beaches as a result of human pollution.

Ronnie’s Persistence:

Despite the expert opinion, Ronnie remains steadfast in his belief that the substance is genuine ambergris and intends to sell it.

He plans to auction it, hoping for a life-changing amount of money that would provide security for his family.

While fishermen refer to ambergris as “floating gold,” Ronnie acknowledges that the discovery could potentially change their lives.


The Value and Global Significance:

Top-quality ambergris can fetch up to £20 per gram, making Ronnie’s 2kg haul potentially worth £40,000.

The largest-ever find to date was made by a group of Yemeni fishermen in 2021, who discovered £1.1 million ($1.5 million) worth of ambergris in a floating carcass.

The trade in ambergris is a lucrative industry in certain parts of the world and can sometimes lead to conflicts.

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