It sounds like an Indiana Jones movie but the crime is very real.
A person – or persons – unknown has stolen the skull of a sperm whale from the Eden Killer Whale museum.
The skull is part of the museum’s collection that has been stored on Neil “Biggs” Rankin’s block on the Eden Lookout.
Staff were very distressed to find the skull had been taken without permission – and it’s not exactly the kind of thing you could pick up by mistake.
“Given the size and weight of the skull, it would have required large machinery, including a crane and a flat bed truck, to undertake the move,” they said.
“Located as the block is on the corner of Imlay and By Streets just above the wharf area on the Eden Lookout, it is unlikely that it could have happened secretly, so we’re hoping that someone saw something and will come forward to provide information to help us get it back.”
The skull was stored on the block to allow oil to continue to leach from the bone.
Preparing whale bones for museum collections is challenging, not just because cetaceans are generally big but because their bodies contain significant amounts of oil.
If not effectively removed from the bones, the oil will continue to ooze for many years causing a multitude of storage and pest problems.
The Eden Killer Whale Museum is a community-owned and volunteer-run organisation, so the theft is especially devastating.
It is illegal in NSW to possess any part of a whale without the appropriate licences, with those found guilty of the offence potentially facing fines in excess of $80,000.
Police are investigating and anyone with information about the missing skull is urged to call Eden Police, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.