• Thar be treasure here?

The Atlantic reports that researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a plant-based substitute for ambergris, the waxy whale waste matter that Charles Joly of the Drawing Room was recently challenged to use in Key Ingredient. It’s produced in the digestive tracts of sperm whales after the whales consume sharp objects, particularly squid beaks, and then expelled—as Joly so delicately put it—from either end. That’s partly conjecture, though: Scientific American reports that scientists, never having seen a whale actually vomit up ambergris, now believe that it’s excreted along with fecal matter.

No one has ever seen a sperm whale excrete ambergris, although sperm whale expert Hal Whitehead of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, admits that it is assumed the voiding takes place as fecal excretion, because when first cast out, he says, “Well, it smells more like the back end than the front.”