After the second fatal shark attack in three months and fifth since 2011, Reunion Island has banned surfing until October 1 and authorities plan to kill 90 sharks between now and October 1 (45 tiger sharks and 45 bull sharks).
The government hopes this will end the bloodshed, or at least make both locals and tourists feel safer.
The latest fatal shark attack was on a 15-year-old girl in shallow water earlier this month, and the previous one was a honeymooner in May with his wife watching from the beach.
The island, located east of Madagascar, is a popular tourist destination known for its world-class waves and pristine beaches.
The government has banned swimming and surfing everywhere except in the shallow lagoon until October 1. Violators will be fined $50.
Environmental groups are expected to argue that removing the sharks will harm the marine environment, and that the threat of shark attacks will still exist no matter how many the government kills.
George Burgess, a renowned shark expert with the Florida Museum of Natural History said, “This is an archaic, knee-jerk reaction that seems more borne of vengeance than of science… This likely will blow up in their faces because most visitors to Reunion have a more sophisticated conservation ethic than the authorities are apparently giving credit them for.”
And surfers are angry, mostly because they’ve been ordered to stay out of the water
“I think it’s stupid. I’m shocked that they banned surfing in the area,” said resident Damien Ferrere, age 16. “If we want to surf, we risk [the fine] and possible prison time. If I want to surf, I will.”
No one knows for sure why so many attacks have occurred in a relatively short period of time, but there is some speculation that the sprawling new marine reserve is growing fish populations, and attracting more sharks.
And though no one can guarantee that when October 1 rolls around and the waters are reopened for surfing and swimming that an attack won’t occur that same day. But the perception will be that the waters are safer, and that’s what Reunion Island is striving for. Image/Wikipedia