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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 09:04 GMT
Dead sperm whale moved from beach
Dead sperm whale
The whale's carcass was protected by laws
The massive body of a sperm whale washed up on a Scottish beach has been disposed of.

Moray Council, which has been co-ordinating the removal of the 43ft (13m) carcass, said it had been cut up and taken away for incineration.

The whale's 500lb (226kg) lower jawbone had gone missing but has now been recovered by police.

Experts said the mammal, found at Roseisle, Moray, most likely died from malnutrition.

The whale was cut into three pieces by abattoir staff on Tuesday and then incinerated.

Experts from the Scottish Agricultural College, who examined the whale at the scene, believed that the animal failed to find enough food
Moray Council spokesman

The Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) has analysed the whale remains and determined that it was a 20-year-old male.

A Moray Council spokesman said: "Early indications are that it died from malnutrition.

"Experts from the Scottish Agricultural College, who examined the whale at the scene, believed that the animal failed to find enough food.

"Its staple diet is giant squid."

Meanwhile, police said the jawbone was removed by people following a local custom of keeping the teeth as souvenirs. An officer said no-one would be charged.

Sperm whale washed up on a Moray beach
The whale was washed up on a popular beach

Pc Mike Middlehurst, a wildlife crime officer with Grampian Police, said the short investigation into the missing jaw ranked among the most unusual he has been involved with.

The deep diving whale's carcass was found on Sunday by a dog walker.

He said: "The jawbone went missing overnight and we got some information where it may be and who was involved with it.

"We spoke to those people and they were forthcoming about why they removed it and where it was.

"We were taken to where it was buried and council staff dug it up."

Pc Middlehurst added: "It wasn't buried to keep it out of sight of the police, but to leave it to rot and to be dug up 18 months later once the flesh had been removed."

Royal property

The officer said the area has a long tradition in fishing and links with the sea and many people believe it is lucky to have a whale tooth.

However, because of its size the whale carcass was protected under an ancient law classing it as the property of the Crown and by rights the Royal Family had first call on what should happen to it.

Its remains are also protected by international law on the trade of endangered species, while the removal of the jawbone could have been treated as a common law offence.


SEE ALSO
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