Can Whales Vomit?

The simple answer is yes, whales can and do vomit.

When food or bacteria gets lodged in the whales throat and digestive system it irritates the whales digestive tract and causes it to vomit the trapped food/bacteria out of its mouth in order to clear its throat for other foods and prevent the whale from loosing its ability to properly swallow/digest its food.

Vomiting itself is a common characteristics of land and marine mammals.

Sometimes an animal vomits in order to remove toxic bacteria or chemicals from the body that cannot be handled by the digestive system or lungs.

In other situations vomiting clears the digestive tract in order to keep it healthy and remove non digestible objects.

This trait is also seen in whales, dolphins and porpoises.

In fact when it comes to species such as the sperm whale, whale vomit is an extremely valuable material and has been used to make a number of top end perfumes, cologne and cosmetics for many years.

Because of this popularity and the fact that tracking whales could lead to endangering the species the sale of whale vomit has become illegal in some parts of the world.

The process used to turn a whales vomit into perfume takes time and preparation for those who sell it or make ingredients with it.

After a whale vomits it’s vomit is left to petrify and age until it is considered to be useful enough to be used in cosmetics; it is then broken down and added as an ingredient in perfumes and cologne that is later sold to the public.

In the past whale vomit was also used as an incense and as an ingredient in cigarettes.

Nowadays synthetic solutions have largely replaced the use of whale vomit.

Tying to sell whale vomit has been a difficult problem that many individuals and businesses have faced as it is considered illegal to sell whale vomit in many locations.

This is partially due to the fact that whales are a protected species and in order to keep whales from being followed by scavengers, which could potentially put the whales life or safety at risk.

Surprisingly whale vomit can be quite expensive to purchase when it is being sold and has even been called “floating gold” due to the exorbitant amount of money people are willing to pay for it.

This waxy, solid and flammable substance is scientifically referred to as Ambergris and is produced in the digestive system of a sperm whale and is eventually regurgitated or vomited out.

Ambergris can also be expelled out of the whales anal tract.

When it is first released from the whale’s body the smell is often comparable to fecal matter, however as it ages the order begins to take on a sweet earthy scent.

Whale vomit can sometimes be found floating around in the ocean (mostly in the Atlantic ocean and a few other locations where sperm whales are particularly abundant) or washed to shore laying on the beach.