Shark attack survivor gets legal exemption to keep tooth stuck in surfboard
A man who was nearly killed by a great white shark near Port Lincoln, South Australia, has been granted a legal exemption to keep the animal’s tooth embedded in his surfboard.
- The Minister of Primary Industries said granting the exemption was the least he could do under the circumstances
- It is illegal to sell, buy or own anything from protected species
- Shark attack survivors say there should always be an exemption after an attack
Chris Blowes was surfing in Fishery Bay on Anzac Day in 2015 when he was attacked, losing his leg to the shark.
He lost consciousness several times while paramedics were performing CPR during his medevac to Adelaide.
“I tried to get [the tooth] come back a few times – it’s good to have it in my hands, âhe said.
Under the State Fisheries Management Act, it is illegal to own, sell or buy any part of protected species – penalties can result in a fine of up to $ 100,000 or two years d ‘imprisonment.
This is the first time the state has granted an exemption from this law, according to the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, SA (PIRSA).
Mr Blowes said he believed police recovered his board when it washed up on the beach after the attack.
âThey noticed the tooth and did the right thing and put it back in the fish; once it was in their hands, I couldn’t have it anymore, âhe said.
“You can see the damage to the end of the tooth that goes into my board – it’s definitely a lower jaw tooth – its upper jaw has my left side and the lower jaw has the underside of my board.”
‘There should always be an exemption’
Dave Pearson of Port Macquarie, who founded the Bite Club Facebook group for other victims of shark attacks, said there should always be exemptions for survivors.
âIt means a lot to the survivor to have this memory of his attack – it’s an attachment and I guess it’s a shark connection that you must have,â he said.
“I understand the rules and why they exist, and no one in our party actively wants to go out and kill a great white just so he can have a pair of jaws.”
“They dropped teeth all the time – that’s what amuses me – that you can dive and especially in South Australia you can pick up white teeth anywhere you want that have been thrown away by the shark but it is illegal for you to collect them from them.
“I think that’s a silly rule.”
Possession with terms and conditions
Mr Blowes said there were a number of terms and conditions that he had agreed to keep the tooth.
“[PIRSA] pushed back a few times and we had to write the terms and conditions, âhe said.
David Basham, Minister of Primary Industries and Regional Development, said it was the least his ministry could do to give him back.
âChris obviously had an extremely traumatic experience and I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help,â Mr. Basham said.
Mr Blowes said he would take a bite out of his motivational talks but, in the end, it was a hefty price to pay for the article.