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Weekly’s whale vomit tale goes viral

A weekly paper’s front page splash on high-value vomit has gone viral after its chief reporter sniffed out the story while having a haircut.

Greg Lambert, chief reporter at The Visitor in Morecambe, bagged one of the quirkiest front page leads so far this year with his tale of a man who found a “stinky rock” on the beach which turned out to be a rare piece of valuable whale vomit

Whale vomit – or ambergris – is used to make perfume and the smelly rock was potentially worth more than £100,000.

Editor Nicola Adam praised the scoop as “a great piece of local journalism picked up the old fashioned way.”

Greg had been having a trim when dog walker Ken Wilman wandered in, having seen the hairdresser advertised in the paper the week before, and asked if he knew how to get in touch with reporters.

As luck would have it, Greg was still in the barber’s chair and started interviewing Ken straight away.

“He started by asking me if I’d heard of it, so I knew it was unusual straight away – but the more we sat and talked about it the more I realised what a great story it was,” he said.

“I went back to tell the editor and we knew instinctively it was going to be a front page. Sometimes on deadline day we can still be looking for a splash but we had this for about a week.”

The Visitor's front page splash has been reported around the world

Since the piece was published, the story has been picked up by the Daily Telegraph, the Sun, the Mirror and broadcast on Sky News and the BBC, as well as a number of international news outlets.

It has been so widely reported now that the RNLI has issued a press release urging the hordes of potential treasure hunters to stay safe.

“They are worried there may be crowds of people heading down to hunt for whale vomit and find their fortune,” Greg added.

“It’s great seeing my story go so big – it’s a real buzz, and what you do it for really. It’s an amazing story – and hopefully life-changing for Ken.”

Nicola, editor of Lancaster and Morecambe newspapers, said she was delighted with how the story had taken off.

“This story is great piece of local journalism picked up the old fashioned way and sent global via new media,” she said.

“Greg picked up the story in the local hairdressers and now it is on websites in India, Thailand and Australia. Quite an achievement.

“I think we all live in hope of stumbling across a fortune and now it has been proved that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is in fact located in Morecambe!

“The beach has never been so busy though we would like to back up the RNLI’s warning about safety as the Morecambe Bay sands can be treacherous.”


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  • February 1, 2013 at 9:48 am

    A cracking tale (with plenty of follow-up mileage)… picked up by a journalist using his eyes and ears (even if he was off duty!) Without that nose for news it could easily have slipped through the net.
    Professionally very satisfying. Much more so than the current trend for keeping journalists chained to their desks and computers churning out anything and everything…..
    Reporters must be allowed to get into their paper’s communities…
    Not too much sign of it in this neck of the woods

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  • February 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

    It makes you sick…
    But “whale” done to Greg.
    He deserved a “bile-Ine”.

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  • February 1, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Not so much about the reporter bringing in a good story while off duty, more the complete luck factor of happening to be having a haircut at the time this guy walked in. An unbelievable piece of luck.
    Good on him though.
    Oddly, we reported a very similar story last year about a child finding some whale vomit, which I don’t recall the nationals and TV getting quite so excited about.

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  • February 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Also, fact fans, not whale vomit… it exits the body at the other end…

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  • February 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    He’s even been on the telly with it… and whoever designed that front page should be put on tea-making duties.

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  • February 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    @wilber and that’s a mould breaker by their standards. You should see some of the other recent efforts.
    No wonder the content managers are next (again)

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