Researchers at the University of British Columbia may have found a natural alternative to ambergris, the by-product of the process of sperm whale intestines combating the sharp edges of squid beaks. A gene extracted from balsam fir trees is grown in yeast and develops into a fixative that exhibits the same properties as the ambrein in ambergris. This article in The Atlantic is one of several that speak in general terms on the topic.
The use of ambergris is legal in many countries, but not in the U.S. Since it is a marine mammal product, its use is banned by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. However, perfume products shipped into the U.S. from overseas may still have ambergris in them. Any one of us could find ambergris along the shore without ever seeing a whale. But, laws like the MMPA minimize the opportunity to create a larger market for such products, and perhaps illegal killing of marine mammals for those products.