Scavengers warned over whale teeth
Scavengers are being warned they face prosecution if caught trying to steal the ivory teeth of a dead whale which washed up on a beach.
The 35-tonne juvenile sperm whale was discovered on rocks at Collith Hole, north of Beadnell, Northumberland, on Monday.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said its officers have already turned away two men from County Durham who had been attempting to take the 30ft whale's teeth.
The agency is now guarding the remains of the mammal while arrangements are made to remove it from the beach.
Mark Clark, a spokesman for the MCA, said the whale is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and trading in its teeth is illegal.
"People are trying to extract the ivory teeth because they think they are worth something," he said.
"The whale is protected under the CITES regulations and if people remove the teeth and trade them, then that's an offence."
Sperm whales are normally found off the North West coast where they feed on squid in the Atlantic.
Experts believe the dead whale mistakenly entered North Sea waters and died of starvation with no squid to feed on.