Ever wondered what Ambergris Caye means? If the name Ambergris had you thinking of amber, you’re right—early Spanish maps referred to the area as the “Amber Coast” and Ambergris is literally translated as “grey amber.” But it’s definitely not talking about the fossil you had in mind.
So what is this grey amber that our island is named after? It’s a secretion produced by sperm whales in their intestines to help with digestion. Not quite as glamorous!
Ambergris washes on shore in hard lumps of various sizes. Historically, it was valuable in the making of perfumes. Local legend says that pirates hiding out on the island sold ambergris to European merchants, giving ambergris the nickname of “floating gold.”
Ambergris is still quite valuable today if you happen to find some while walking the beach, but I’d remember where it came from before picking up a piece of “floating gold”!