Shark tooth pulled from man's foot 25 years after bite

A shark attack is hard to forget, but one Florida man got a reminder recently in the form of a painful blister on his foot that actually contained the tip of a tooth. Jeff Weakley, who was surfing off Flager Beach in 1994 when the shark struck, said he initially thought the blister came from running.

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But when he popped the blister open with a tweezer, the tooth popped out, he told SWNS. Weakley sent the tooth in to the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, where the used DNA to determine that the tooth indeed belonged to a blacktip shark.

The fragment of the tooth that popped out of Weakley's foot is pictured left, alongside a photo of him from around the time the attack happened.

The fragment of the tooth that popped out of Weakley's foot is pictured left, alongside a photo of him from around the time the attack happened. (SWNS)

“I was very excited to determine the identity of the shark because I’d always been curious,” Weakley, now 46, said, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. “I was also a little bit hesitant to send the tooth in because for a minute I thought they would come back and tell me I’d been bitten by a mackerel or a houndfish – something really humiliating.”

Remarkably, the team was able to recover enough DNA from the tooth to reveal the shark’s identity.

The research team's director wasn't sure they'd be able to pull enough DNA from the tiny fragment after so many years. 

The research team's director wasn't sure they'd be able to pull enough DNA from the tiny fragment after so many years.  (SWNS)

“I had put our odds of success at slim to none,” Gavin Naylor, the programs director, said in the museum’s blog.

But his team prevailed, and Weakley had his answer. He’s chosen to donate the tooth rather than turn it into a pendant and said his experience did not turn him off to water sports.

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“I’ve been lucky to have not been bitten by a dog, but I would regard that interaction I had with that shark as being no different or more destructive than a dog bite,” he told the museum blog. “I certainly don’t have a hatred of sharks or any feeling of vindictiveness toward them. They’re part of our natural world.”