Whale vomit is gold.

Ever wandered across a beach, only to stumble upon vomit from a whale? Oh you haven’t? Too bad for you. If you had, you might be like 8-year-old Charlie Naysmith who is now $63,000 richer because of it. Apparently sperm whales regurgitate a substance known as ambergris. Ambergris, in case you didn’t know, can make the scent of perfume last longer; making it a very valuable commodity.

Charlie will now have more in his savings account than most of us all because he decided to pick up some vomit.

This story makes me think about all the great opportunities I’ve ignored or overlooked. Maybe this $1.99 desk I bought from a thrift store was the desk Thomas Jefferson wrote the constitution on? Or maybe that old Ken Griffey Jr. card I have in my baseball collection is worth more than the $0.50 I paid for the pack of gum it came in? Hey if whale vomit can be worth thousands, why can’t my desk be worth millions?

The best return on investment I’ve ever got was a mini-van I purchased from my Grandma’s estate when she passed away. I paid $1,700 for the van and drove that sucker my entire junior year of college (and if you’re wondering if it had dual automatic sliding doors; the answer is yes!). One year after purchase, I put the thing up on Craigslist and sold it for $5,000 within a week. Buying a mini-van is the best financial decision I’ve made yet…take that personal finance!!!!

You never know when your next cash cow could present itself. One day you’re walking down the beach with your dad. The next you are selling whale vomit to some company for $63,000. Lesson learned. 

What’s the best return on investment you’ve ever made?

14 thoughts on “Whale vomit is gold.

  1. I read that article you are talking about earlier today. I wouldn’t have thought about picking up whale vomit. Good for him though and hopefully he will be smart enough to spend it (or save it) wisely.

    I think the best return on investment I’ve ever had was on a weekly Ford Call option that I bought @ $.04 on a Thursday and sold them for a 400% gain at $.16 the next day. The commissions were ridiculous on them though ($.75/contract X 100 contracts=$75 + $9.99 commission so $85 each way) so the final gain was less than 400%. Still a good gain though for an overnight trade.

  2. I went to a game store once after it had recently been purchased by a new owner who was not interested in selling single cards of a game that the previous owner did. I bought his store’s inventory of these cards for $75. After a few hours of sorting and a few weeks of dealing at other stores, I sold the collection off for close to $6,000. not too shabby.

  3. I unfortunately have nothing comparable to your whale vomit or even dog poop. But so long as we’re on the subject:

    Coming still nearer with the expiring breeze, we saw a second whale that seemed even more of a nosegay than the first. In truth, it turned out to be one of those problematical whales that seem to dry up and die with a sort of prodigious dyspepsia, or indigestion; leaving their defunct bodies almost entirely bankrupt of anything like oil. Nevertheless, . . . no knowing fisherman will ever turn up his nose at such a whale as this, however much he may shun blasted whales in general.

    Seizing his sharp boat-spade, Stubb commenced an excavation in the body, a little behind the side fin. You would almost have thought he was digging a cellar there in the sea; and when at length his spade struck against the gaunt ribs, His boat’s crew were all in high excitement, eagerly helping their chief, and looking as anxious as gold-hunters.

    Stubb was beginning to look disappointed, especially as the horrible nosegay increased, when suddenly from out the very heart of this plague, there stole a faint stream of perfume. “I have it, I have it,” cried Stubb, with delight, striking something in the subterranean regions, “a purse! a purse!”

    Dropping his spade, he thrust both hands in, and drew out handfuls of something that looked like ripe Windsor soap, or rich mottled old cheese; very unctuous and savory withal. You might easily dent it with your thumb; it is of a hue between yellow and ash colour. And this, good friends, is ambergris, worth a gold guinea an ounce to any druggist.

    – Moby Dick, Chapter 91

    • Well, at least that makes two of us knowing Moby Dick well enough to know about ambergris! Maybe that kid found it his favorite book at his age like I did…and still do 🙂

  4. Infertility treatments before our first was conceived. About $10,000. And then 3 months after he was born, we found out we were having a “suprise” second baby. My sons are 11 months apart. And a few years later I got pregnant without trying again with our daughter. 3 for the price of one! Still not cheap, but priceless!

    • How is a crappy, crying baby money? This is talking about getting more money after spending money. Not getting three brats after wasting money on fertility treatments (the cost of which could be used to feed living, breathing kids–sad).

  5. None of mine are especially huge, but I found a full carbon road bike in a pawn shop for $499, and adding up the components it is worth over $2400 if new. I bought a ’89 vanagon for $2500 and sold it five months later for $4500. Just purchased a honda hybrid over the weekend for 2k less than blue book, and it was owned by a 70 year old. Was in great condition. I just enjoy making a game of it.

  6. That van is AWESOME! What a profit! I haven’t found any whale poop, but I did help my sister sell her Geo Metro many years back. SHe got the thing for $500 and when gas prices first shop up a bunch of years ago, I helped her sell it on ebay for $2000. Which was over the blue book value! It was pretty awesome.

  7. I bought two college textbooks at a yard sale of .25 cents each because I noticed they were relatively recent editions. I only wish I could have more sustainable way to get 10,000% profits.

  8. I love your article – you have a great point! Here is my best investment I have ever made:
    I bought a condo for $106,000 and lived in it for only six month until my other condo under construction was being built. Then I sold it for $125,000. I made $19,000 in six months! That was great for someone like me making only $25,000 at my regular job!

  9. … if I had the luck of that kid.

    Well, I am semi-lucky. I accidently was entered in a contest, and won, but not $60,000 worth of prizes.

    Also, whale vomit? Eww.

  10. I bought a modest condo for $56K years ago. I lost my job, 10 days after I moved in. I had $70 to my name. I kept it going during a horrendous recession in my town for 3 years. Finally I got work but I would have had to work 80hrs a week to maintain it (the job was just above min wage). So I sold it.

    I owed about 53K when I sold it for 90K. When all the money was exchanged, I made 33K out of it. I paid off every debt I had, set up an emergency fund, RRSP and rented an apt. Been debt free ever since.

    Never want to go through that again as the emotional stress of living hand to mouth was crazy.

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