Ambergris is a solid, waxy substance that was frequently used as an ingredient in perfumes throughout history. It was also incredibly rare, making it extremely valuable.

The reason why ambergris is so rare is because it is only found in one place: the digestive systems of sperm whales. When a sperm whale consumes a hard or sharp substance - such as the beak of a squid - normally the animal will vomit it up; however, occasionally the sharp object will pass into the whale’s digestive system, where its body will produce ambergris in order to prevent damage and ease the beak’s passage through its intestines. 

Upon being expelled from the whale’s body, ambergris will float, being a waxy substance. Rarely, they will float to a beach where they can be discovered by people. Fresh ambergris is said to have a marine, fecal odor; but as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthly scent. 

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This is my blue whales flying kites watercolor illustration it is hands-down one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever made. It was inspired by going to the Museum of Natural History New York City,which is where I always go if I need inspiration. I’d like to pitch my animal art to @Etsywholesale ! I think this piece would be a great fit for @landofnod ! These whales have found their way into many nurseries across the world already! Hope they like it too! #etsy #etsyopencall #whales #whaleart #handmade #watercolor #illustration #etsyshop #shopsmall #smallbusiness #dreamjob #thatsdarling #makersgonnamake #artprint #bluewhales #landofnod #nurseryart #daniellevgreen #museumofnaturalhistory

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What To Do If You Find A Beached Cetacean

If you are ever out by the coast and are the first to happen upon a stranded or beached whale, dolphin, or porpoise, please take these steps to ensure the animal gets the help they need!

  • Before anything, call a local rescue or stranding network! A list of these networks for America can be found here. Do this before doing anything else, the faster you can notify professionals to come for help the better.
  • Do not try to push the animal back into the water! They beached for a reason, and if they are ill or needing medical attention and you push them back into the water, they could re-strand and stress/injure themselves further, or they could go off and eventually die of whatever was ailing them.
  • Do not try to touch the animal or get close unless necessary. They are large, wild predators and are likely in a certain mode of survival, which could lead to injury for you. It’s best to keep yourself safe and stay far enough back that if the animal were to bite or thrash, you are not in the way. If the animal is in a situation that requires you to get near, do so with care and have volunteers assist you.
  • Ensure the animal can breathe. If their blowhole is covered or not in a position that allows them full access to air, you may need to flip or adjust the animal. Only do this if you feel comfortable and with the utmost self preservation.
  • Try to keep the crowd away and quiet. A noisy crowd of barking dogs, yelling adults, and screaming children will only stress and panic the animal more. Keep everyone else at a safe distance and try to keep everyone calm and noise levels down.
  • Log the time, physical appearance, condition of the animal, and take photos. Any information you can gather while waiting for the rescue team is essential in giving them more information to help the animal.
  • Try to gather some wet towels and carefully drape them over the animal while keeping as much distance as you can. If the animal is thrashing wildly or acting aversively to any advance, back off immediately and skip this step. It’s not worth risking your safety.
  • Place a tarp tent over the animal if any beach goers have one nearby. Keeping the animal out of the sun is ideal so they can avoid sunburn. They are not used to being exposed to such high intensity rays for long amounts of time.
  • Keep waiting for help to arrive, and keep logging behavior and condition of the animal.
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photos by franco banfi and andrey nekasov of beluga whales swimming under the ice of the white sea, which is a designated whale sanctuary. some of these whales were formerly captive in zoos and marine parks, but have since been reintroduced into the wild after a period of rehabilitation. 

notes andrey, “diving with the belugas is really great because they are so friendly. when we are preparing to dive they pop their heads out and watch everyone getting ready. it’s like they are beckoning you in to come and play." 

belugas are very social and they form groups of up to 10 animals, although during the summer, they gather in the hundreds or even thousands in estuaries and shallow coastal areas. 

says franco, "belugas are very intelligent, lively and alert. their curiosity toward everything that is unusual or intriguing is evident. encountering a beluga whale that looks you directly in the eye is very touching indeed." 

I loved it. You’ve gotta go whale watching! Sometimes they leap out of the water, sometimes they pat the water with their tails… their fins or something and they also come up to breathe. Then they dive, when they dive you can see their tails come out of the water. Anyway that’s not the point of the story.
—  Taylor Swift gets distracted during her paparazzi story to talk passionately about whales (BBC Radio 1 Interview)