Ambergris: Why Perfume Makers Love Constipated Whales

How whale poop becomes perfume. Thanks to Crunchyroll for sponsoring this video!

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FYI: We try to leave jargon out of our videos, but if you want to learn more about this topic, here are some keywords to get your googling started:

Sperm Whale: (Physeter macrocephalus) The largest toothed-whale, found in oceans all around the world, and likely the only whale besides the Pygmy Sperm Whale to produce ambergris.
Cephalopod: An active predatory mollusk like an octopus or a squid.
Cetacean: A marine mammal like a porpoise, dolphin or whale.
Colon: The part of the large intestine that goes from the cecum to the rectum.
Rectum: The last part of the intestine that ends in the anus.
Eau de toilette: A dilute form of perfume


Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Ever Salazar (@eversalazar)
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Emily Elert (@eelert)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Kate Yoshida, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:


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Clarke, R. (2006). The Origin of Ambergris. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 5:1 (7-21). Retrieved from:

Dannenfeldt, K. (1982). Ambergris: The Search for Its Origin. Isis 73:3 (382-397). Retrieved from:

Kemp, K. (2016). Personal communication based on his book, “Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris.” Link:

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