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Whales teeth


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#1 terry

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 04:59 PM

Hallo,
I am hoping someone can help me. While I was lecturing in Fine Art in Western Australia in the 1970's (I have since been living back in Austria for the past 25 years) one of my female students had a brother who was a 'diver' who came across a vast quantity of thousands of whales teeth while diving off Albany, somewhere near where a whaling station used to be at Frenchman's Bay which I have recently discovered closed down in 1978. Apparently this chap had intended to bring up the teeth, but a 'friend' of his (who he had told of his find) betrayed him and 'pinched' the huge mass of teeth and sold them!! The original finder of the teeth did later find a fraction of the teeth which had been overlooked by his 'friend' and brought them up. The student who told me of her brother's find actually had some of the teeth at her house, left there by her brother when he moved away. Being at an Art College she wondered if anyone had any idea as to what she should do with them. I said I would like to have a few of them which she gave me because I had the idea that I would learn to try and carve them at one of the other courses run by another lecturer. Well, and this is the point of my question I still have seven left which range in size from about 4 to 6 inches in length and I simply don't know if I am legally allowed to sell them or not and if I am allowed how would I go about it, or if I can't what can I do with them? Can anybody help??
Thanks,
Terry, - from a very snowy Vienna!

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#2 Mike Ruslander

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 05:30 PM

I'm not even sure you can own them legally, much less sell them. I don't know the laws in Austria.
It's true that in the 60's, most Sperm Whale teeth sold in the U.S. were harvested off the sea floor, I don't think the U.S. govt. makes a distinction.
Read this:

"There are a lot of people out there who are still being looked at by our agency," said NOAA law enforcement spokesman Mark Oswell. "Every door we open leads down another passageway."

Because sperm whales are protected as an endangered species, trafficking any part of them without federal approval violates several laws aimed at discouraging poachers.

Violating a federal anti-smuggling law or the Lacey Act against trafficking illegally obtained wildlife are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, said Chris Hall, the Philadelphia-based assistant U.S. attorney who is handling the case.

Violating the Endangered Species Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act is a misdemeanor.

NOAA agent Mike Henry, a lead investigator in the case, said trafficking sperm whale teeth is "an activity that we believe occurs a lot, but it's difficult to find and investigate."

Some people believe owning items made from endangered species is prestigious, according to Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington.

"In this kind of wildlife trade, people are notorious for using these products to an extreme without any regard for the species that are at risk," Wasser said. "People can't seem to restrain themselves. ... It can quickly lead to the demise of the species."

Federal agents have searched homes and businesses in at least a half-dozen states. At the suspect's home in Oak Harbor, they seized a large whale tooth, a jaw section with four teeth, assorted ivory artifacts and tools, and baleen March 29. They also seized banking records related to the Internet auction site eBay, Seattle NOAA enforcement agent Alan Wolf wrote in search-warrant documents.

The man told agents he sold products made from endangered species parts on eBay, Wolf wrote.

That may not be illegal, however. Trading or owning endangered species parts is not generally against the law if they were harvested or found before the laws restricting them were enacted.

#3 Mike Ruslander

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 05:40 PM

Apparently the European Union frowns on the practice too. From 2005:
A North-East antiques dealer appeared in court yesterday accused of breaking laws which aim to control the damaging trade in endangered animal species.

Thomas Balmain, 50, faces two charges of advertising sperm whale teeth for sale on the internet auction site eBay.

He is also charged with eight offences of keeping whale teeth and elephant ivory products for sale at a property he owns in Northumberland.

Yesterday Balmain, of Millbank Crescent, Bedlington, Northumberland, appeared before the town's magistrates after being charged with the 10 offences last month.

All the charges are alleged contraventions of the EU's Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. Balmain was arrested and charged after Northumbria Police, supported by the National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit, executed a warrant and raided his warehouse in Ashington on October 10.

Whale teeth and elephant ivory recovered from the property were in the form of salt and pepper pots and a number of carved animal figures, including a camel and giraffe.

Yesterday Balmain appeared in court charged with two counts of selling a specimen of a species in August this year and eight of keeping a specimen of a species for sale.

His solicitor Tim Barker ( who described the case as a fairly unusual area of the law ( successfully applied to the magistrates for a three-week adjournment to allow him to take further instructions.

The case was adjourned until November 22 and Balmain was granted unconditional bail.



Source: The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne

#4 RUSS

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 06:01 PM

Here's a link to a tooth that I was recently watching on ebay...not sure what the legal aspects are....

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...em=190286676033

#5 Guest_Clive_*

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 06:13 PM

Crikey!!!.... definitely a big NO NO Terry.

#6 terry

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 06:37 PM

View PostMike Ruslander, on Feb 22 2009, 06:30 PM, said:

I'm not even sure you can own them legally, much less sell them. I don't know the laws in Austria.
It's true that in the 60's, most Sperm Whale teeth sold in the U.S. were harvested off the sea floor, I don't think the U.S. govt. makes a distinction.
Read this:

"There are a lot of people out there who are still being looked at by our agency," said NOAA law enforcement spokesman Mark Oswell. "Every door we open leads down another passageway."

Because sperm whales are protected as an endangered species, trafficking any part of them without federal approval violates several laws aimed at discouraging poachers.

Violating a federal anti-smuggling law or the Lacey Act against trafficking illegally obtained wildlife are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, said Chris Hall, the Philadelphia-based assistant U.S. attorney who is handling the case.

Violating the Endangered Species Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act is a misdemeanor.

NOAA agent Mike Henry, a lead investigator in the case, said trafficking sperm whale teeth is "an activity that we believe occurs a lot, but it's difficult to find and investigate."

Some people believe owning items made from endangered species is prestigious, according to Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington.

"In this kind of wildlife trade, people are notorious for using these products to an extreme without any regard for the species that are at risk," Wasser said. "People can't seem to restrain themselves. ... It can quickly lead to the demise of the species."

Federal agents have searched homes and businesses in at least a half-dozen states. At the suspect's home in Oak Harbor, they seized a large whale tooth, a jaw section with four teeth, assorted ivory artifacts and tools, and baleen March 29. They also seized banking records related to the Internet auction site eBay, Seattle NOAA enforcement agent Alan Wolf wrote in search-warrant documents.

The man told agents he sold products made from endangered species parts on eBay, Wolf wrote.


That may not be illegal, however. Trading or owning endangered species parts is not generally against the law if they were harvested or found before the laws restricting them were enacted.

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the speedy reply, much appreciated. I had (very recently) read the first article you were kind enough to send me when I was trying to find out what the legal situation was now regarding whales teeth. I naturally bought them in all innocence in the 70's when whaling was still legal. It probably sounds a bit hypocritical but I myself am against whaling. When I bought them I was originally told that they could have been on the floor bed any time from 1912 onwards (the latest the 1970's when the station finally closed down). It is most likely that they had been there a long time as apparently where they were found was not used in later years. (In fact whaling had been carried out off the south western Australian coast since the mid 1800's). I cannot prove they have genuine age to them, (unless there is a possible way) but what do people do with whales teeth that they can prove are known to be old?
Thanks again,
Terry - still snowing hard here, about a foot deep!!!

#7 terry

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:38 PM

View PostRUSS, on Feb 22 2009, 07:01 PM, said:

Here's a link to a tooth that I was recently watching on ebay...not sure what the legal aspects are....

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...em=190286676033

Hi Russ,
Thanks for the ebay link, - very interesting.
Terry

#8 terry

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:39 PM

View PostClive, on Feb 22 2009, 07:13 PM, said:

Crikey!!!.... definitely a big NO NO Terry.

Thanks Clive!!

#9 a.priddy

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 09:36 PM

ok, here it is.... i own a pre-ban elephant tusk and was thinking of selling it, so did a little research. you can buy ivory within the country you are in or sell within the country you are in. you will notice on the ebay tooth that shipping is restricted to the UK (country of origin).. you CAN NOT import or export. if you import a carving from say china (who recently bought tons of ivory freed up in Zambia and doesn't care about trade laws) you are asking for a little trouble. if you buy alot you are asking for alot of trouble unless you can absolutely proove pre-ban carved and the trail of origin. in 1986 (the end of) banned ivory also included carved ivory. i brought a carved tusk back at that time. uncarved ivory was banned in 1983 i believe. i also tried to bring back several endangered species hides (i was young and stupid - 15 at the time) and wouldn't want to come close to that experience again.

keep in mind that Canada (i know this sounds stupid) is a different country. it's pretty easy to pick up a walrus tusk and throw it in the trunk while on vacation. not the best idea, you may be arrested at the border.

fossil ivory can be bought anywhere i believe, i'm sure there are import restrictions for purchase and resale.

#10 Brian Chan

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 06:23 AM

You know how biologists are able to grow bone and other tissues in a test tube now?
Hopefully they'll do this with ivory for us carvers someday! guilt-free ivory.

#11 Janel

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 09:57 PM

What a concept!
Teachers open doors, you enter by yourself. Chinese proverb
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. ~ Goethe ~


Janel Jacobson's web site

#12 rockhunter

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 04:28 PM

View Postterry, on Feb 22 2009, 04:59 PM, said:

Hallo,
I am hoping someone can help me. While I was lecturing in Fine Art in Western Australia in the 1970's (I have since been living back in Austria for the past 25 years) one of my female students had a brother who was a 'diver' who came across a vast quantity of thousands of whales teeth while diving off Albany, somewhere near where a whaling station used to be at Frenchman's Bay which I have recently discovered closed down in 1978. Apparently this chap had intended to bring up the teeth, but a 'friend' of his (who he had told of his find) betrayed him and 'pinched' the huge mass of teeth and sold them!! The original finder of the teeth did later find a fraction of the teeth which had been overlooked by his 'friend' and brought them up. The student who told me of her brother's find actually had some of the teeth at her house, left there by her brother when he moved away. Being at an Art College she wondered if anyone had any idea as to what she should do with them. I said I would like to have a few of them which she gave me because I had the idea that I would learn to try and carve them at one of the other courses run by another lecturer. Well, and this is the point of my question I still have seven left which range in size from about 4 to 6 inches in length and I simply don't know if I am legally allowed to sell them or not and if I am allowed how would I go about it, or if I can't what can I do with them? Can anybody help??
Thanks,
Terry, - from a very snowy Vienna!


#13 rockhunter

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 04:34 PM

After all the possibilities , just go on the net and ask all the SCRIMSHANDERS who you will find there. They deal in ivory , both mastidon and wolly mammoth as well as animal ivory. I'll bet they can give you chapter and verse on the subject. One thing I do know is they ain't cheap.



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