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A surfer aged 28 died in Reunion Island after a shark attack.
The incident took place off the coast of surfing off Saint-Leu, a fishing town located on the west coast of the French department.
The authorities were called after a witness saw a surfboard floating near the shore. His body was only recovered later. According to the Reunion Island officials, the shark bit one of the surfer’s leg and tore it off.
The victim was one of the four surfers that were catching waves in the area. All the other three were able to get back to shore without any injuries. The man was surfing with three friends off the small fishing town of Saint-Leu where surfing is restricted because of the rising threat of shark attacks in recent years, according to the Mirror. The friends were wearing shark-repelling devices on their ankles but the unidentified victim was not, the Mirror reported. The shark bit off the victim’s leg. Efforts to save him by his friends proved futile. Authorities later recovered the body.
“During this period of school holidays, the Prefect of Reunion Island recommends the utmost vigilance to all ocean users, and more particularly to those practicing nautical activities,” an official statement notes. “Reunion Island is entering a transitional period between the summer and the austral winter with plenty of southern swell fronts which attracts surfers and bodyboarders. However, the presence of potentially dangerous bull sharks in the Reunionese coast increases as water temperatures shifts between seasons.”
A prefectural decree issued on February 13, 2019, temporarily regulated bathing and certain nautical activities by restricting water interaction 300 meters off the coast of Reunion Island. The ban is valid for swimmers using flippers, mask and snorkel equipment, surfing, bodyboarding, bodysurfing, longboarding, and paddleboarding). Other water activities, including scuba diving and underwater fishing, are still possible under regulations, at the risk and peril of users.
The prefecture of Reunion Island recommends water users follow the official beach flags and warning signs available on supervised beaches. On certain beaches, there’s specific signage relating to shark risk, including:
1. A red flag with a shark indicates that the presence of a shark has recently been reported or observed in or near the area;
2. An orange flag with a shark indicates that the conditions on the zone are conducive to the presence of sharks;
Since 2011, Reunion Island reported 24 shark attacks of which 11 resulted in deaths.