6 Years After Shark Attack, Man Who Lost Leg Allowed to Keep Tooth

Australian authorities decided to make an exception
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2021 4:49 PM CDT
Guy Who Lost Leg in Shark Attack Can Now Keep Its Tooth
"It shook me about and played with me for a bit," Blowes says. "And it ended up pulling my leg off."   (Sharkcrew/Wikimedia Commons)

Under South Australian state law, great white sharks are a protected species and it is illegal to possess any part of them—but authorities decided to make an exception for a surfer who argued that since a shark got his leg, he should be allowed to keep its tooth. Chris Blowes, 32, was almost killed in a 2015 shark attack that left a tooth embedded in his surfboard, the BBC reports. He lost a leg and spent 10 days in a coma, and police who recovered his board handed the tooth over to fishery authorities. "It's definitely a bottom jaw tooth," Blowes says. "Its top jaw got my left flank and the bottom jaw got the underside of my board."

Blowes says he asked for the tooth several times over the last six years but authorities only granted the first-ever exemption to the rule after a state government minister got involved, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. "Chris has obviously been through a hugely traumatic experience and I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help," says Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham. Dave Pearson, founder of the "Bite Club" for shark attack survivors, says Blowes "paid a hell of a price for just one tooth." He argues that exemptions should always be made for survivors. "I guess it's a connection to the shark that you need to have," he says. (Read more shark attack stories.)

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