Ambergris IELTS Reading Academic with Answers
Reading Passage 1
Real IELTS Exam Question, Reported On:
|India||21st May 2022|
Ambergris was used to perfume cosmetics in the days of ancient Mesopotamia and almost every civilization on the earth has a brush with ambergris. Before 1,000 AD, the Chinese names ambergris as lung sien hiang, “dragon’s spittle perfume,” as they think that it was produced from the drooling of dragons sleeping on rocks at the edge of a sea. The Arabs knew ambergris as anbar, believing that it is produced from springs near seas. It also gets its name from here. For centuries, this substance has also been used as a flavouring for food.
During the Middle Ages, Europeans used ambergris as a remedy for headaches, colds, epilepsy, and other ailments. In the 1851 whaling novel MobyDick, Herman Melville claimed that ambergris was “largely used in perfumery.” But nobody ever knew where it really came from. Experts were still guessing its origin thousands of years later, until the long ages of guesswork ended in the 1720’s, when Nantucket whalers found gobs of the costly material inside the stomachs of sperm whales. Industrial whaling quickly burgeoned. By 20th century ambergris is mainly recovered from inside the carcasses of sperm whales.
Through countless ages, people have found pieces of ambergris on sandy beaches. It was named grey amber to distinguish it from golden amber, another rare treasure. Both of them were among the most sought-after substances in the world, almost as valuable as gold. (Ambergris sells for roughly $20 a gram, slightly less than gold at $30 a gram.)
Amber floats in salt water, and in old times the origin of both these substances was mysterious. But it turned out that amber and ambergris have little in common. Amber is a fossilized resin from trees that was quite familiar to Europeans long before the discovery of the New World, and prized as jewelry. Although considered a gem, amber is a hard, transparent, wholly-organic material derived from the resin of extinct species of trees, mainly pines.
To the earliest Western chroniclers, ambergris was variously thought to come from the same bituminous sea founts as amber, from the sperm of fishes or whales, from the droppings of strange sea birds (probably because of confusion over the included beaks of squid) or from the large hives of bees living near the sea. Marco Polo was the first Western chronicler who correctly attributed ambergris to sperm whales and its vomit.
As sperm whales navigate in the oceans, they often dive down to 2 km or more below the sea level to prey on squid, most famously the Giant Squid. It’s commonly accepted that ambergris forms in the whale’s gut or intestines as the creature attempts to “deal” with squid beaks. Sperm whales are rather partial to squid, but seemingly struggle to digest the hard, sharp, parrot-like beaks. It is thought their stomach juices become hyper-active trying to process the irritants, and eventually hard, resinous lumps are formed around the beaks, and then expelled from their innards by vomiting.
When a whale initially vomits up ambergris, it is soft and has a terrible smell. Some marine biologists compare it to the unpleasant smell of cow dung. But after floating on the salty ocean for about a decade, the substance hardens with air and sun into a smooth, waxy, usually rounded piece of nostril heaven. The dung smell is gone, replaced by a sweet, smooth, musky and pleasant earthy aroma.
Since ambergris is derived from animals, naturally a question of ethics arises, and in the case of ambergris, it is very important to consider. Sperm whales are an endangered species, whose populations started to decline as far back as the 19th century due to the high demand for their highly emollient oil, and today their stocks still have not recovered. During the 1970’s, the Save the Whales movement brought the plight of whales to international recognition.
Many people now believe that whales are “saved”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All around the world, whaling still exists. Many countries continue to hunt whales, in spite of international treaties to protect them. Many marine researchers are concerned that even the trade in naturally found ambergris can be harmful by creating further incentives to hunt whales for this valuable substance.
One of the forms ambergris is used today is as a valuable fixative in perfumes to enhance and prolong the scent. But nowadays, since ambergris is rare and expensive, and big fragrance suppliers that make most of the fragrances on the market today do not deal in it for reasons of cost, availability and murky legal issues, most perfumeries prefer to add a chemical derivative which mimics the properties of ambergris.
As a fragrance consumer, you can assume that there is no natural ambergris in your perfume bottle, unless the company advertises this fact and unless you own vintage fragrances created before the 1980s. If you are wondering if you have been wearing a perfume with this legendary ingredient, you may want to review your scent collection. Here are a few of some of the top ambergris containing perfumes: Givenchy Amarige, Chanel No. 5, and Gucci Guilty.
Classify the following information as referring to
A. ambergris only
B. amber only
C. both ambergris and amber [ieltsxpress]
D. neither ambergris nor amber
Write the correct letter, A, B, C, or D in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.
1 being expensive
2 adds flavor to food
3 used as currency
4 being see-through
5 referred to by Herman Melville
6 produces sweet smell
Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage.
Write your answers in boxes 7-9 on your answer sheet.
7 Sperm whales can’t digest the ______ of the squids.
8 Sperm whales drive the irritants out of their intestines by ______
9 The vomit of sperm whale gradually ______ on contact of air before having pleasant smell.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
10 Most ambergris comes from the dead whales today.
11 Ambergris is becoming more expensive than before.
12 Ambergris is still the most frequently used ingredient in perfume production today.
13 New uses of ambergris have been discovered recently.
Ambergris IELTS Reading Academic Passage with Answers
11. NOT GIVEN
12. NOT GIVEN
Ambergris IELTS Reading Answers with Explanation
Question 1: very expensive
Supporting Sentence: Its high price varies from $15 to $25 an ounce
Keywords: very expensive
Keyword Location: Paragraph A, Line 3 ieltsxpress
Explanation: High price could be interpreted as very expensive from the text. Furthermore, the next paragraph does not contain any information indicating that amber has a high price. The answer must be A.
Question 2: food flavor
Supporting Sentence: … as a flavoring material in cooking.
Keywords: food flavor
Keyword Location: Paragraph A, Last Line
Explanation: Food flavour could be interpreted as very pricey from the wording. We couldn’t discover any material on ambergris being used as a food flavour, either, so the answer must be A.
Question 3: used as currency
Supporting Sentence: elimination method
Keyword Location: The word currency is not found in the entire passage. So it does not relate to either of them.
Explanation: There is no usage of currency in the passage.
Question 4: referred to in a communication
Supporting Sentence: The true source and character of ambergris was first satisfactorily established by Dr. Swediaur in a communication to the Royal Society.
Keywords: referred to in a communication
Keyword Location: Paragraph E, Line 1
Explanation: From the text, referred to in communication is paraphrased as established in communication. We could not discover any information about amber that said it was mentioned in the communication, hence the answer has to be A. In communication, only ambergris is mentioned. ieltsxpress
Question 5: could be seen through
Supporting Sentence: …amber is a hard, transparent and wholly-organic material…
Keywords: could be seen through
Keyword Location: Paragraph B, Line 3
Explanation: From the text, transparent could be understood as could be seen through. There’s no information about ambergris that said that it could be seen through. The correct answer is B. The only colour that could be seen through was amber.
Supporting Sentence: It was found by Dr Swediaur that ambergris very frequently contained the horny mandibles or beaks of the squid, on which the sperm whales are known to feed.
Keywords: sperm whale, eats, hard and sharp, squid ieltsxpress.com
Keyword Location: Paragraph E, Line 2
Explanation: We may conclude from the question that the solution must be a Noun, a hard and sharp component of a squid. Furthermore, the line “It was discovered by…. on which sperm whales are known to eat” contains all of the keywords mentioned above. As a result, the solution must be contained within this statement. As a result, the response must be a Noun, a squid part that is hard and pointy and belongs in the sentence above beaks should be the proper answer to this question.
Supporting Sentence: the substance is produced by the whale’s intestine as a means of facilitating the passage of undigested hard, sharp beaks of squid that the whale has eaten.
Keywords: intestine, produce, ambergris, facilitate
Keyword Location: Paragraph E, Line 3
Explanation: The response must be a Noun, which is the object of the verb facilitate, based on the question. Because the last sentence in this paragraph has all of the keywords stated above, the answer, the object of the verb assist, should appear somewhere in this sentence, implying that this passage is the correct response to this question.
Supporting Sentence: connected with a morbid condition of the sperm whale. Often expelled by vomiting, ambergris floats in chunks on the water …
Keywords: sperm whale, float
Keyword Location: Paragraph F, Line 3
Explanation: We may assume from the question that the response must be a Verb, which is done by sperm whales and forms into a phrasal verb with up. It’s also self-evident that this verb should be in the passive voice. Take this section of the paragraph: “…connected with a morbid condition… ambergris floats in chunks on the water…” From this section, we choose two verbs: expel and vomit; expel up is not a suitable phrasal verb. On the other hand, while vomiting is a proper phrasal verb, it would also be incorrect because the answer must be a verb in its passive form. Thus vomiting should be the correct answer to this question. ielts xpress
Supporting Sentence: Following months to years of photo-degradation and oxidation in the ocean, this precursor gradually hardens, developing a dark grey or black colour
Keywords: months of exposure on air, it, the colour turns dark grey or black
Keyword Location: Paragraph F, Line 4
Explanation: We may draw from the question that the answers must be a singular Verb that depicts the state of ambergris after months of air exposure. Consider the following phrase: “Following months to years of photo-degradation and oxidation… It contains all of the keywords given above, therefore the solution (a Verb) might be hardened is our correct answer.
Question 10. In the 20th century, most ambergris was made in the process of killing sperm whales.
Supporting Sentence: In the 20th century, 90% of ambergris was derived in the processing of killing sperm whales.
Keywords: 2oth century, most ambergris, made, the process of killing sperm whale
Keyword Location: Paragraph H, Line 3
Explanation: Inferring from the details in the fourth sentence of the paragraph, the question statement is validated in the passage, the answer is TRUE.
Question 11. Ambergris’s cost increased recently.
Answer: NOT GIVEN IELTSXpress
Question 12. Ambergris still remains in the perfume making.
Answer: NOT GIVEN
Question 13. Ambergris is still the most important amber odorant in perfume manufacture.
Supporting Sentence: The most important of these is Ambrox, which has taken its place as the most widely used amber odorant in perfume manufacture.
Keywords: the most important, amber odorant, perfume manufacture
Keyword Location: Paragraph I, Line 4
Explanation: “The most important of these is Ambrox, which has taken its place as the most widely used amber odorant in perfume manufacture,” the text implies that Ambrox, not ambergris, is the most important amber odorant in perfume manufacture. FALSE is the answer. ielts xpre s s
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