A passenger who arrived at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport recently had some explaining to do, and came up with what customs agents called "a whale of a tale."
The man, whom authorities did not name, landed at BWI on a flight from Iceland and was discovered to be carrying bones in his luggage, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The agency said the passenger told inspectors they were whale bones, which led to their confiscation.
"CBP detained the bones," Customs said in a press release. "The passenger was released."
Federal and international laws restrict the importation of the bones of endangered species of whales. Customs contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for "a formal determination" of the bones' origins. Should the bones turn out not to be from an endangered species, they will be returned to the passenger.
Some 30,000 species of animals and plants are protected to varying degrees by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, according to U.S. Customs. Customs offiicals encouraged travelers to check the CITES website as well as their own for information on what can and cannot be transported.