The Ambergris Element

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"The Ambergris Element"
Star Trek: The Animated Series episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 13
Directed by Hal Sutherland
Written by Margaret Armen
Production code 22013
Original air date December 1, 1973 (1973-12-01)
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List of Star Trek: The Animated Series episodes

"The Ambergris Element" is the thirteenth episode of the first season of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek. It first aired in the NBC Saturday morning lineup on December 1, 1973, and was written by Margaret Armen.[note 1] who wrote the earlier episode "The Lorelei Signal" and also worked on episodes for the Original Series.

In this episode, Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock are mysteriously transformed into water-breathers.


On stardate 5499.9, while exploring the water planet Argo (which appears to only have dead ruins as indicators of intelligent life), Captain Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprise and his Science Officer Spock are lost from their survey party when their aquashuttle is attacked by a giant sea creature. After a lengthy search the two are found, transformed into water breathers. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy's analysis indicates that this could not have been accomplished by any natural process, leading to the conclusion that intelligent life must still exist on the planet, but under the seas.

In order to return to their normal selves, Kirk and Spock must seek out the Aquans (who fear surface dwellers) and enlist their help in locating the lost formula for reversing the transformation, and then capture a giant sur-snake whose venom is key to the antidote.


John Peel, writing for the magazine The Star Trek Files, described the episode as "a particularly silly story", citing as story with things done that couldn't have been done in the live show but without any thought put into it. As part of his re-watch series of articles of the show, Keith DeCandido rated this a 5, citing the episode's cimax as "stultifying" [1]


As part of budgetary savings, Majel Barrett voiced all of the female voices for this episodes, while James Doohan voices several of the Aquans, including the High Tribune, with producer (and Filmation co-founder) Lou Scheimer voicing Lemus, with unknown actors voicing other several characters.


  1. ^ This story was expanded into a novelette by science-fiction author Alan Dean Foster as part of the collection, Star Trek Log Five (1975) (ISBN 0-345-33351-9).

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