In 2015, Chris Blowes was surfing south Australia’s Fishery Bay when he was attacked by a great white shark. He lost complete consciousness during the rescue and was in a coma for 10 days, eventually waking up having lost his left leg. In the aftermath of the attack, police collected his board when it washed up on the beach and handed it over to other authorities, which is where his story takes a really unique turn and became one of the oddest legal battles you could imagine: the right to keep a tooth that was lodged in the board.
Under a Fisheries Management Act, possessing any part of a protected animal is illegal, with up to $100,000 in fines or two years in prison as the price tag.
“It’s ridiculous to think considering it took my leg and it was stuck in my board — it seems stupid that I wasn’t able to have it in the first place, but that’s what the law says,” he told ABC.
Chris wanted an exemption, understandably, saying the tooth would be a good accompaniment to his motivational speaking engagements and to show the grandkids one day.
“It’s not a fair trade, a leg for a tooth,” he said.
With local support and lobbying, the state granted its first-ever exemption to Chris under a handful of terms and conditions, according to Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regions.
“It seems stupid that I wasn’t able to have it in the first place, but that’s what the law says.”
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