Shark attack survivor wins right to keep tooth left in surfboard

Chris Blowes, 32, misplaced his leg when an awesome white shark attacked him in 2015

An Australian man who was virtually killed in an attack by an awesome white shark has gained the right to keep a tooth the animal left wedged in his surfboard.

Surfer Chris Blowes misplaced his leg and was in a coma for 10 days after he was attacked in South Australia in 2015.

The shark’s tooth was embedded in his board, however state guidelines ban folks from possessing elements of protected species.

Now the state has granted him an exemption, and Mr Blowes says he is maintaining the tooth as a “souvenir”.

Mr Blowes, now 32, was browsing at Fishery Bay in April 2015 when a 5.5m-long (18ft) nice white shark struck him from behind.

“It shook me about and played with me for a bit,” he informed the BBC. “And it ended up pulling my leg off”.

Chris Blowes in hospital

Mr Blowes was in a coma for 10 days after the attack

After being introduced to shore by two buddies, Mr Blowes was handled by paramedics and brought to hospital in Adelaide.

“My heart had completely stopped and they had to administer CPR until I showed any signs of life,” he says.

When police went to get better his surfboard, Mr Bowes says, they discovered a shark tooth lodged in it. Following South Australia legislation, they handed it in to the authorities.

The shark tooth that bit Mr Blowes

Chris Blowes says he is maintaining the tooth as a memento to present his grandchildren.

“And then from that day I wasn’t allowed to see the tooth,” says Mr Blowes.

Under the state’s Fisheries Management Act, it’s unlawful to possess, promote or buy any a part of white sharks – and people who breach the legislation can face a high quality of up to A$100,000 (£55,000) or two years in jail.

Mr Blowes says he requested officers a number of occasions if he may have the tooth returned, however it was solely after a neighborhood politician heard about his case that an exemption was granted.

Chris Blowes surfing with his prosthetic leg

Mr Blowes has taught himself how to surf together with his prosthetic leg

“It was stuck in my board,” Mr Blowes says. “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 is not getting its tooth again [and] I’m not getting my leg again.”

It is the primary time the state has granted an exemption to the act, in accordance to the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, SA (PIRSA), ABC News reported.

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.

“Chris has clearly been by means of a massively traumatic expertise and I wished to see if there was something I may do to assist,” Mr Basham told ABC.

Mr Blowes says he is keeping the tooth in a case in his house and and taking it along to motivational talks he gives about his attack.

“It’s a superb memento to present my grandchildren,” he says.

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