A surfer who lost his leg, and almost his life, has just won a six-year legal battle to keep the tooth the great white shark left embedded in his surfboard.
“You can see the damage on the end of the tooth from it going into my board — it’s definitely a bottom jaw tooth — its top jaw got my left flank and the bottom jaw got the underside of my board.”
– Chris Blowes
Chris Blowes, 26 at the time, was attacked by a shark while he was surfing at Fishery Bay in South Australia on April 25, 2015. The shark pulled his leg off, leaving him bleeding out and miles from anywhere. His heart stopped right there on the beach, but through CPR, his friends managed to bring him back to life and get him help. He was then in a coma for ten days.
When his surfboard finally washed up back on the beach, police noticed the tooth and handed it to the Fisheries authorities. Under the state’s Fisheries Management Act it is illegal to possess, sell or purchase any part of great white sharks, and those who breach the law can face a fine of up to A$100,000 (US$77,500) or two years in prison.
“It was stuck in my board. I would never kill a shark for its tooth but it took my leg [so] I can’t see any reason why I can’t have that. The shark isn’t getting its tooth back and I’m not getting my leg back.”
For years Blowes kept asking officials for the tooth, as a souvenir of the attack but kept getting rebuffed. Until he sought the help of a politician and officials granted the exemption.
“It’s not a fair trade, a leg for a tooth. But, on the bright side it’s a good souvenir to show my grandchildren.”
David Basham, South Australia’s Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, said returning the tooth to Mr. Blowes was the least his department could do.