The hunt's on for whoever illegally removed a jawbone from a sperm whale washed up on an Otago beach.
The Department of Conservation (DoC) believes the 15-metre whale died at sea before washing up on a beach north of Bull Creek, near Milton, in April.
"This act is pretty unusual because it would not have been an easy thing to do at all," Doc operations manager Annie Wallace told the Otago Daily Times.
It's believed the thief used a chainsaw, as nothing else would have been able to cut through the bone.
DoC is liaising with local Maori on its disposal.
A few days after its disappearance, a third of the jawbone was returned.