As anyone experiencing an inexplicable stroke of luck described it, “it was just one more day” for a group of poor Yemeni fishermen heading to the Gulf of Aden to earn a living.
But the lucky lady handed them a piece of precious ambergris, a unique substance found in the belly of sperm whales, in their hands when they came across a floating whale carcass.
For obvious reasons, the latest Good News Network story in which Yemen or Yemenis were the center of attention was published in 2011. But with this once-in-a-lifetime find of 35 Yemeni fishermen, the poorest country in the Middle East just got a little richer.
26 kilometers off the coast of the southern port city of Aden, a dead sperm whale was hooked to fishing boats and washed ashore. An inspection of the whale’s interior revealed a 280-pound lump of “floating gold” or ambergris, a substance used to stabilize fragrances in perfumes.
Produced in the intestines of sperm whales, ambergris protects the lining of the intestines from the sharp beaks of squid that make up the majority of their diet.
Over time, it has also been used as a flavoring in spirits and coffee, and as incense in ancient China, Egypt, and elsewhere.
Al-Araby reports that an Emirati businessman bought the ambergris for $ 1.5 million, a sum of money unimaginable for most of the world’s fishermen, let alone those from one of the world’s poorest countries.
Also, while one might imagine that this story ends in tragedy or corruption considering the desperate state the country is in, the money was shared among the 35 men, who decided to give a portion to help their community.
“From one moment to the next, our lives changed,” one of the fishermen, named Abdulhakeem, told AFP. “There are those who bought boats, others built or fixed their houses. I built my house; I built my future. “
“We are simple people: fishermen who look for our catch every day,” Salim Sharf, another of the 35 lucky ones, told AFP. “If you found the catch of the day, thank God. Suddenly, the Merciful gave us this.“
Quoting an old phrase, Abdulhakeem points out that for most men the sea and its bounty are better neighbors even than a king. For these lucky 35, that’s certainly true.
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