Thieves have stolen the jaw bone from a 45-tonne sperm whale that washed ashore north of Kaikoura.
The whale was spotted floating out at sea last week and later washed up on the shore.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the dead whale was fenced off by contractors, however, thieves broke through the barrier and stole part of the whale’s jaw.
Sperm whales can grow to 18m long, however, this one was 14.5m long.
The whale had distinctive markings on its tail and photographs and DNA samples have been sent to Otago University to determine if the whale is known.
DOC workers believe the whale was likely to have died of natural causes.