Article

Another Attack in Reunion

A bodysurfer loses his leg in latest shark attack, local surfers frustrated with government and regulations

| posted on November 05, 2013

At 4:30 in the afternoon on Reunion Island last week, at a beach called Étang-Salé located just south of Saint Leu, tragedy struck. As the sun crept toward the horizon, a 24-year-old swimmer, Tanguy, was viciously attacked by a shark 20 yards from the shoreline. His right leg was severed at the thigh and he was rushed to a local hospital, where he is reportedly fighting for his life.

Scenes like this have become far too common on Reunion Island over the course of the past two years. Since 2011, Reunion has borne witness to a dozen shark attacks, five of them fatal. In July, officials reacted by instituting a controversial order that would cull 90 sharks (45 tiger sharks and 45 bull sharks) from the island’s waters and banned surfing outside of the island’s lagoons until Oct. 1 of this year.

When we first reported on this story in late July, Damien Ferrere, a local surfer, told us that he believed the ban would fail to halt locals from surfing the island’s world-class reefs. “I think it’s stupid,” he told us. “I’m shocked they banned surfing in the area…if I want to surf, I will.”

But according to other Reunion locals, fear—coupled with the potential fine they face for surfing—has indeed deterred surfers from the lineup. “Most of us have stopped surfing as much,” said Fabrice Fridmann. “We do still have a group of avid surfers on the south, toward St-Pierre, Étang-Salé, and Saint-Leu, but with all that’s happened lately…it’s hard to say what will happen to surfers on Reunion in the future.”

Although surfers have been the victims in the majority of the attacks, the last two shark attack victims were swimming in near-shore waters. A number of theories exist as to what’s caused the sharks to become more aggressive. One cites the creation of a marine reserve on the island’s west side that has banned fishing and allowed the marine life in the ecosystem to grow, thus attracting more sharks to the area. Another stipulates that the growing amount of wastewater making its way into the sea is attracting sharks.

Some surfers, like Fridmann, have expressed frustration that the government hasn’t been able to protect its people. “The surf industry on the island, tourism, and the general economy is paying a high price for the shark crisis…The government is trying to help with the situation, but I feel like they’re taking too long. Other countries like Australia and South Africa have been able to do something, I just don’t understand what’s taking so long.” Fridmann went on to state that he believes that regulating the bull shark population in the area and creating an electro-magnetic fence to deter sharks, along with other efforts, could go a long way to prevent future attacks. “For now, we have to trust in our love of the ocean to solve this,” he added. “We must find a solution to live together with the sharks.”

  • walter

    same happened in brasil where they got a big spike on shark attacks and after ton of research and many limbs and lives lost they discover the reason… an abandoned slaughter house was leaking blood and Bio waste into a river stream that meet the ocean in its end ringing a dinner bell for the shark around..

    • Mark Janssen

      I see a lot of idiotic responses. IT is not about human vs animal life, of what is more important. Evert life is important! People all over the world should however realise that when we enter the sea we enter their domain. They are the a-pex predator there. Are sharks to blame for that? Humans shoot and kill millions of animals all over rhe world each and every year. I think we have a responsability to other animals and not the other way around, just Because we are the only species who can. I understand that People who lost somebody to a sharkattack say kill sharks, but They forget that everything is connected. A sea without sharks is a dead sea. Well Maybe you can surf really great in it, but thats about it. Surfers you don’t own the sea! IT just on lend! It will be there long after we are gone. Remmander
      that before you say something stupid!

  • kprochas

    Shark nets like Australia?

    • shuffle974

      Coral reef topography can’t accept nets here.

    • http://asmarttranslatorsreunion.wordpress.com/ Catharine Cellier-Smart

      it’s being experimented

    • djoula

      Pretty hard in most of spots in Reunion island… Interesting article, some people also think that the increasing number of sharks attack may be the result of overfishing around the island…

  • Pointpanic

    I surf because I love he ocean, marine life and the energy of he wave. THe sharks were there long before we were.Plus for every human killed or injured by a shark , millions of sharks are killed wordlwide.”culling” of sharks must not happen

    • Joana Leite

      Finally, a wise person.

      • yo momma

        Dudes… Human life is still more precious than “shark life”. Not sayin’ to kill them all, but fuck… you only say that ’cause it’s not your break being haunted by this plague. People are being killed, sometimes just for going for a swim.

        • sayswho

          Who says that human life is more precious than animal life? It’s that kind of thinking that is destroying the planet.

          • Pavlo

            “Who says that human life is more precious than animal life?” OK. Let’s see how this plays out in a real-life, ‘push comes to shove’ scenario.

            Someone is swimming in the ocean, (let’s say it’s your good friend, your child, or your sister, brother, mother or father). A shark approaches, and is poised to attack, circling the human. [Hit the pause button.]

            Whose life is more valuable in this situation? What would you choose to do if you had the power to either: 1. kill the shark and save the life of the human, or 2. Choose not to act and therefore allow the shark to attack, kill and eat the friend/child/relative?

            You’re kidding yourself.

          • Pete

            Well said, Pavlo. I don’t know why some ‘people’ place the life of a stupid fish over that of a Human Being. As custodians of this planet, we have every right to enter the ocean without being molested by a shark(s). We don’t let killers roam free for the most part, now do we?

          • Johnny59

            That kind of logic is what drives reasonable people crazy. Let’s say you have a child or family member being robbed at gun point. Both are human what do you do? Sound stupid, well that’s you. Dickhead.

          • Lespaulsmith

            I’m pretty sure I would be considered one of the group that believes human life to be more precious than animal life. Are you a fucking shark? Didn’t think so, asshole.

          • Pavlo

            “Who says that human life is more precious than animal life?” OK. Let’s see how this plays out in a real-life, ‘push comes to shove’ scenario.

            Someone is swimming in the ocean, (let’s say it’s your good friend, your child, or your sister, brother, mother or father). A shark approaches, and is poised to attack, circling the human.
            [Hit the pause button.]

            Whose life is more valuable in this situation? What would you choose to do if you had the power to either: 1. kill the shark and save the life of the human, or 2. Choose not to act and therefore allow the shark to attack, kill and eat the friend/child/relative?

            You’re kidding yourself.

          • Trev

            Maybe the sharks are finally realizing that we “The Humans” are destroying the world that they live in and they’re getting some payback! The problem can’t be solved by slaying sharks when it’s us who deplete the oceans of the food they need to survive. I say give the politicians a surfboard and send them to Reunion Island. Now ask the same question 1. or 2.?

          • Johnny59

            Except culling sharks does nothing to prevent them from attacking people. Sharks that are tagged have been shown to move far distances and likely others will just move in. History has taught us this but we keep freaking out and keep doing the same thing getting the same results. If we keep messing with the eco system we will end up victims of our own stupidity.

    • Mike

      I take an in between stance on this issue, because as much as i agree with you i know you and i both would have a different opinion if it was your best friend brother or father who got taken out there. I can say that i agree we are in their ocean, but i know if i lost a friend or was attacked myself id be singing a different song….kindof a hypocrisy

    • Stu Azole

      Bull shirt.

    • shuffle974

      For one human killed by a bullshark in Réunion, no sharks are killed… Think about this… Culling of shark never happened here.

    • Snakos

      Here it’s bull shark. And we have issues With it because scientifcs from the national reserve change the west side of the Island With their big natural laboratory. Nothing like your culling. You want stop culling ? Go to visit your Mac Donald And free the fish nuggets.
      Bullsharks are ont endangered.
      You should ne more preocuped by Bee instinction…

    • chips

      Oh please when you’re getting munched on by a bull shark your survival instincts will kick in and you won’t be asking for the culling to stop. It is animal instinct to want to survive. That goes for humans as well as sharks.

    • Kreol from Reunion Island

      Hello PointPanic. Glad to see some people all over the world who claim loving the ocean. I’d be glad to welcome you home in Reunion Island, and go with you for a nice session of body surfing in boucan canot or “le tournant” at l’Étang Salé to see how much you love wildlife in Réunion Island too… Please, don’t hold it against me but while going with you in the water, I’d prefer taking my fins, mask, tuba and my speargun to try to protect me against a 300 kg bullshark who could try to taste on of my legs or arms. I hope that the family beach you’re used to go with your kids doesn’t become the hunting area of bullsharks. As far as i’m concerned, your comment could be summarized as “wildlife is good (but Not In My Backyard!)”
      Speaking about culling, we are talking about a few tens of not endangered bullsharks, wich represents epsilon in comparison of tons of endangered sharks removed from the water by industrial fisheries all over the oceans. They are the one to blame don’t you think so?
      Maybe the point is, is it better for the public to stay away from the ocean if we want them to understand how the ocean is important for them? How can a kid grow loving the ocean if he doesn’t go in it? If ocean means blood an desperation to him?

    • Reunion surfer

      I probably
      would have thought the same 3 years ago from 20 000 km away… But the
      situation in Reunion is not simply “We want to erase the sharks because we
      want to surf quietly”. Reunion surfers has always surf knowing and accepting
      the risk, we’ve always been on the “nature side” in fact all the
      development of the Island is based on trying to be the “show case of ecology”
      in Europe in the next 20 years. But the scientist have messed up big time in Reunion,
      They didn’t do any impact analysis on any decision they made and they won’t go
      back on these decision because there’s a lot of money involve. It would take a
      few days to explain the all story but here we are now, facing an overcrowding
      of bull shark, which didn’t exist in the Island 10 years ago. They scare away
      or kill all the reef shark that we had instead. Fishermen are only bringing up
      heads of fish, Surfing and swimming or snorkeling is strictly forbidden, the
      economy, which is based on tourism, is a disaster (-60% in 2013).
      We actually took the time to try to explain the all story to the NGO Shark
      Angel France’s president and look what she said about it: text Shark Angel France (you can easily translate this
      page in English on Google).

      And in
      actual fact about 10 shark as been fished in Reunion since 3 years, not more
      (how many in the USA?)!

      Respectfully (and sorry for my poor English)

    • Kreol from Reunion Island

      Hello PointPanic. Glad to see some people all over the world who claim loving
      the ocean. I’d be glad to welcome you home in Reunion Island, and go with you for a nice session of body surfing in boucan canot or “le tournant” at l’Étang Salé to see how much you love wildlife in Réunion Island too… Please, don’t hold it against me but while going with you in the water, i will take my fins, mask, tuba and my speargun to try to protect me against a 300 kg bullshark who could try to taste one of my legs or arms.
      I hope that the family beach you’re used to go with your kids won’t become the hunting area of bullsharks. Your comment could be summarized as “wildlife is good, but Not In My Backyard”
      Speaking about culling, we are talking about a few tens of not endangered bullsharks, wich represents epsilon in comparison of tons of endangered sharks removed from the water by industrial fisheries all over the oceans. They are the one to blame don’t you think so?
      Maybe the point is, is it better for the public to stay away from the ocean if we want them to understand how the ocean is important for them? How can a kid grow loving the ocean if he doesn’t go in it? If ocean means blood an desperation to him?

    • kooknavy

      I was just like Pointpanic, but at this point something has to be done. Over a dozen attacks in 2 years is an unsettling trend, whatever the reason (human tampering)…But yeah, something has to be done.

    • Bo Smithers

      Yea bro, sharks are more important than human beings… Brilliant! What a jackass comment.

  • bee keeper

    kill em all

  • ThatDank

    capture/relocation?

  • MrBrainstorm

    i’m leaving in reunion island, i surf as often as i can, mostly in Etang Salé. I care about ecosystems (but i’m not a one way thinking ecologist, nether a shark killer). The real problem here is not shark, it’s F***ING HUMAN ! We are dealing with a big bunch of dickhead : the state doesn’t really care at all and is waiting for answers from different local association that are totally unable to work together. On one side you have ecologist who want to protect every single piece of shell you can find on the beach, on the other side you have shark killers, and in the middle… small associations that have to power. every week you have a creation of a new association. people here are so angry at each other on that topic that some association even received death threats ! welcome to reunion island where you will be far more shocked by people stupidity than “ocean danger”. Nice waves this morning, hopefully i won’t find cops on the beach and no shark in the water ;)

    • Jay

      Brilliantly said my friend.

    • Dogtown

      Agree

  • Mark Stinton

    “Lets make an example of 90 sharks to send a message to the other sharks out there that we don’t mess around.”

  • SB

    hahaha theres two types of people for every situation. perfect example the comments below me

  • Shawn Paulson

    why do you think, there’s all this radiation in the water . . . do the math

  • heatherfowle

    Surfers and body boarders do what they do as love the sea, its life and the thrill of feeling free for a while. Something has altered the behaviour of the sharks in this area. The most dangerous animal in the world is us. We as a species kill millions of sharks every year in the most barbaric ways for their fins, accidentally as by-catch and targeted fisheries. The effort here should not be on culling but identifying the shift in behaviour.

  • Will Schoettle

    I got chased out of the water by a shark a year ago. Not fun, but I was thankfully on my prone paddleboard and was not attacked. Had we actually scrapped, I would have grabbed for the gills. Maybe we should both be vegetarians, mr. shark, but it is my ocean too!

  • Paul Oriente

    Sharks are always there nearby. As a surfer, we accept the benefits vs the risks because there is an addiction to the rush you get sliding down a wave…experiencing the marine life up close and personal..and getting that feeling that only surfers understand. It’s hard to explain why you would go surf a place that sharks frequent (even if there are attacks in that area) but…you know the rush would have to be totally worth if for some people or they wouldn’t do it.

  • Pedro

    We have the same problem here in Recife – PE, Brazil. A lot of shark attacks and the authorities aren’t able to come up with a solution…

  • Buis Mathieu

    Tanguy was swimming.Please precise that; just Bullshark & Tigershark are attracted close to the shore (due to creation of reserve and the full activity of SAPMER) not originals reef sharks like withe & blackpoint, leemonshark ect …I ride this lovely island since 96, before 20O6/07 we shared session with reef predator like barracuda and beautiful reef sharks.Now bullsharks eat all of them and Tiger sharks eat the bullsharks.That’s why we see monsters bullsharks (more than 300kg) close to the beach.The Bullshark and Tiger is banned to commercialization since 1999 due to a doubt never verify of ciguatera.
    Buis Mathieu

  • Nitroxx

    You know hundreds of thousands of people are killed every year by cars and cigarettes but you don’t see anyone hunting the CEO of Ford and the like. Fines for surfing? WTF. Freedom….taken away by politicians and attorneys.

  • Califia

    The foolish politicians in San Diego, California are chumming for sharks with seals
    and sea lions at the best beaches in Southern California. Shark numbers are
    predictably on the rise and with one fatal attack a few years ago. They
    are proposing a beach closure at Children’s Pool to display seals to draw

    even more shark food into the local waters.

    There is a group trying to stop the nonsense. http://www.friendsofthechildrenspool.com http://www.friendsofcp.com http://www.refusetoberolled.com

  • AT1

    We all still want to swim and we need the sharks. Electromagnetic fields are a good near term solution with possible long term implications. I have personally witnessed them shy away from magnets in the wild so why not? Anyone want to help?

  • GetReal

    I didn’t realize you “lived” with the sharks? I thought the ocean was their habitat?! Silly me

  • Glen James

    Its happening here in Australia also…Marine Parks and Aquatic Reserves setup by corrupt pollies around 2000′ are killing humans. No one in their right mind wants to ‘cull’ anything. Dumb word. But we have had 3 gruesome shark attack fatals in NSW alone in 294 days. All in Marine Parks. With the dates correlated we can see that Marine Parks are killers of humans. Spend 2 hours working it out…overfishing is BS. We have all been tricked im sorry. WA is due again also. Just by the numbers, although people will be surfing less I reckon.

    Bye bye surfing I loved thee sooo much. I had my fun in the ‘safe zone’ of commercial fishing and shark bycatch from the 60′s to the 90′s. Those days are over my surfing friends. Surfing is finished in Australia. Sharks are more important than humans and or surfing. The non ocean using public have seen to that. Thanks for that. The surf industry globally will fall over within 10 years. Its already falling over. As shark populations snowball as will the attack rate and fear with it. Maybe surf with a bowie knife strapped to your back??

    Oh well as long as the landlocked Greenies are happy…the backyard pool industry should flourish along with the shark diving cowboys. Surfing is done…

    Quint.

  • Rhatish From Mauritius

    Our life are precious but killing sharks will make misbalance in the ecosystem. There shall be another solution to this problem. I am not a surfer but i understand your feeling. Sharks is an wild animal so we can stop to live there life. I am still a child of 13.

  • Rhatish From Mauritius

    Sharks are eating us because we are killing all fishes in the sea. So if we kill these fish it will be a normal reation for the sharks.