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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

(Newser) – 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."

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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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