Monday, December 5, 2011

Whale Poop and Sushi

What's the difference between whale poop and sushi? About $5,000 a pound. Ba-dum-bum CHING!

In the world of whales and dolphins where the news is almost always sad or bad or both, I thought we could all use a little smile...but before I explain let's have a look at today's gloomy headlines:-

*the Japanese whaling fleet is back down in the Southern Ocean slaughtering whales again while their government has increased funding for this butchery masquerading as 'research.'
* the young female Orca (named Morgan by the Dutch people) has been transferred to a sea park in the Canary Islands after a court rejected pleas by animal rights groups to free her.
* veterinarians at SeaWorld claim that close human contact is good for their captive Orcas. Of course, the threat of being fired has nothing to do with this ridiculous and disingenuous claim.
* the seas off the Faroe Islands are running red with blood once again as islanders partake in their annual bloodfest in which Pilot Whales are massacred in the surf.

And so on, and so on; whenever and wherever whales come in contact with man, the news is rarely good. Which brings me back to the matter of whale poop and sushi. If you thought the answer to my opening one-liner was that raw fish and cooked rice demanded the higher price, you'd be wrong. It is the poop, at least as far as Sperm Whales are concerned. This dark, waxy material, known as ambergris that is excreted by these magnificent squid hunters has been the stuff of legends ever since whalers first went to sea with murder on their minds.

Over the centuries it has been used variously as food (yuk), an aphrodisiac (ya baby), incense (really?), a cure for migraines (both cause and cure?) and much more; but its use in perfume is what generates the big bucks. When fresh, it smells like cow slurry (just ask a dairy farmer) but after it's aged it takes on a pleasant aroma in its own right and also prevents the perfume's scent from fading.

But before you run down to the seashore and start searching for Sperm Whale poop, you should know that it's illegal to sell it in the US; so if you find some just put it in a bucket of sea water for about a year and then you can make your own perfume (if every brainless female celeb can do it, why not you?), but don't be surprised if your neighbors all move away.

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