Page last updated at 19:50 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Thieves target teeth of dead whale in Northumberland

Beadnell sperm whale
The whale's body is being guarded prior to its removal

Scavengers have been attempting to steal the teeth of a sperm whale which died after becoming stranded on rocks on the Northumberland coast.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said officers had to turn away two men who were trying to remove its ivory teeth.

It is believed the 10m (32ft) mammal lost its way and became dehydrated before coming ashore at Beadnell Bay, near Seahouses, on Monday.

The remains are now being guarded while arrangements are made for removal.

Mark Clark, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "People are trying to extract the ivory teeth because they think they are worth something.

"The whale is protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species regulations, and if people remove the teeth and trade them, then that's an offence."

Tests are being carried out by a specialist vet in a bid to establish why the whale became stranded and died.

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