IN AUGUST 2016, a father and son duo discovered what they thought was £95,000 worth of whale vomit.

Tom Derrick, aged 39 and from Worle, and his 67-year-old father, Alan Derrick, from Milton, thought they had struck gold and found ambergris – a valuable form of whale vomit – on the beach at Sand Point, in Weston-super-Mare.

Ambergris is used to make a perfume’s scent last for longer and so it is highly valuable in the cosmetics industry.

Speaking at the time, Tom said: “I thought it was a lump of clay to begin with, but it really doesn’t smell very nice.

“It caught my eye because it was a nice bright white colour, rather than the murky brown we are used to seeing in Weston, so it looked very out of place.”

Alan, who was at that time a keen angler, quickly recognised the musty-smelling substance as ambergris, and warned his son to guard it with his life.

Speaking in 2016, Alan said: “Whenever the weather is bad and I can’t go fishing I walk the beach looking for fishing tackle. On Sunday, Tom decided to come with me and it was just as well he did.

“I actually had a fishing hook stuck in my finger when he found it, so I was busy trying to sort that out when he brought it up to me – I just said son, if that’s what I think it is, guard it with your life.”

Tom and Alan soon sent small samples of the potential ambergris to specialists in France, Italy and New Zealand.

Before it was confirmed, the duo put what they thought was ambergris on eBay. 

Alan said at the time: “It weighs 1,195g in total. Tom put it on eBay and we had four people looking at it within seconds. There is another small piece on eBay and the seller is asking for £80 per gram – which would mean ours is worth £95,600.”

However, much to the pair's disappointment, it turned out not to be ambergris at all.

Instead, it turned out to just be a lump of whale fat.

Alan concluded: “It turned out to be whale fat – disappointed? Yes."