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The Ambergris Element (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"The Ambergris Element"
TAS, Episode 1x13
Production number: 22013
First aired: 1 December 1973
12th of 22 produced in TAS
13th of 22 released in TAS
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 22 released in TAS Remastered  
92nd of 728 released in all
Kirk and Spock mutated
Written By
Margaret Armen

Directed By
Hal Sutherland
5499.9 (2269)
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The crew of the Enterprise explore a submerged culture on a water world.


"Captain's log: Stardate 5499.9. We are orbiting the planet Argo. Argo was once a land planet, but its surface is now almost completely covered by water. The change was caused by violent seismic disturbances. Our mission is to study the effects which the quakes and other phenomena had on its surface. This knowledge may save millions of lives on a Federation planet, identical to Argo, which will soon be undergoing similar transformation."
Aquashuttle-captured by sursnake

Captured by a sur-snake

The crew lands in a specially designed aqua-shuttle but is immediately attacked by a sur-snake and Kirk and Spock become trapped in the monster's grip.

"Ship's Log: Stardate 5504.2, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott in command. Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock have been missing for almost five days. Search parties can find no trace of them or the aqua shuttle. Dr. McCoy and I are continuing the search at a greater distance from the attack point."

McCoy, Scott, and Lt. Clayton find the missing officers.

"Medical Log: Stardate 5506.2. Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock were rescued forty-eight hours ago. They have no recollection of what happened to them after they were attacked, but medical examinations show an unidentified substance in the blood stream has affected their entire metabolism and changed them into water breathers. Their internal structure is completely transformed, and even their eyes are covered with a transparent film, like the second eyelid of a fish. So far all efforts to return them to normal have failed."

McCoy says, "We're stumped, Jim. The hormone seems to be the major factor in your mutation but we just can't identify it." Kirk asks, "Are you sure the mutation wasn't somehow accomplished naturally?" McCoy replies, "It's infused into your bodies at key structural points. It had to be done by injection." Kirk demands, "But can't you duplicate it Bones? Your medical computers have information of every procedure in the Federation's hospitals." McCoy says, "It's highly sophisticated and completely unknown to us." Spock inserts, "That implies there are intelligent lifeforms on Argo." McCoy replies, "The sensors don't indicate any lifeforms down there aside from fish." Spock thinks the readings may be incomplete. Kirk can't spend the rest of his life confined to a tank so he and Spock must travel underwater to find the planet's inhabitants, the Aquans, in the hope they will be able to return them to their normal Human and Vulcan selves.

Kirk and Spock explore the submerged Argo and find a group of inhabitants who hate any air breathers. They want them to leave. Their young saved them once but it won't happen again. The two officers soon find a beautiful underwater city. Hesitantly, the Aquans agree to perform surgery to return Kirk and Spock to normal, but when Scotty dives down to warn of an impending quake, they become fearful of air-breathing spies. Kirk and Spock are deemed treacherous and are sentenced to death.

Rila, a water breather, agrees to help them if they will in turn help her find a buried ancient city in ruins whose archives may contain a way to reverse the mutation. They discover that the substance in their blood streams is similar to the ambergris of Earth whales. The reverse mutation is induced by an infusion of an antitoxin made from the venom of a deadly giant sur-snake. The Aquans help them obtain the necessary medicine, but Kirk nearly dies from the vaccination.

In orbit, the USS Enterprise uses its phasers to hit the uninhabited sections of the planet in an attempt to move the quake's epicenter away from the Aquan city and new land masses are born. Grateful for saving their lives, the young Aquans make their ancient records available to the Federation and decide to use the new found medicine to reverse their water-breathing mutations and resume life above ground. Kirk implores them not to lose contact with their underwater ancestors. The elders declare they will pass ordinance to forbid it and this time they will not ignore them.

Memorable QuotesEdit

"What the devil was that thing?"
"Apparently a lifeform which previous surveys have not recorded."

- McCoy and Spock

"We've lost contact, captain. Repeat, we've lost contact. Come in, captain, come in!"

- Scotty

"Their bodies are functioning. Metabolism, heart, everything but the lungs!"
"Can't breathe. Suffocating. Help, can't breathe!"
"What happened to them doctor? What is it?"
"Something's changed their whole lung structure. They can't live in the air anymore!"

- McCoy, Spock, Scotty, and McCoy again

"Our equipment is too limited."
"We aren't limited. We can go wherever we want in that ocean."

- McCoy and Kirk

"Look at this place... a tank! I can't command a ship from inside an aquarium! I can't live in here!"

- Kirk

"It is quite possible, captain, that they find us grotesque and ugly and many people fear beings different from themselves."

- Spock

Background InformationEdit

Story and production Edit

Continuity Edit

Reception Edit

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and referencesEdit



Also starringEdit

Background characters Edit


algae; ambergris; antitoxin; Aqua-City; Aquans; Aquan ordainments; aquarium; aqua-shuttle; aquatic support apparatus; Argo; blood; cold; continental shelf; Denebian whale; directional marker; Earth; exile; fern; gill; High Tribune; hormone; Junior Tribune; life support belt; logic; lung; mesh; Milky Way Galaxy; mutant; NCC-1701\5A; NCC-1701/R6; power pack; Ruling Tribunal of the Aquans; scouter-gig; seaquake; skeleton; surgo-op; surgo-records; sur-snake; Tribune

External linkEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Previous episode:
"The Time Trap"
Star Trek: The Animated Series
Season 1
Next episode:
"The Slaver Weapon"

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