The dangers of shark attacks are no secret for Georges, who as a kid was repeatedly warned to beware of the large predators lurking in the tropical waters off his native Reunion Island.
That was several decades ago, and the issue since then has mushroomed in the French Indian Ocean island following several deadly shark attacks, sparking a tug of war between those who want to protect the fish and those who would like to see preventative culls.
“We always talked about sharks in the Reunion. When I was a kid, our parents were already warning us,” said Georges, who did not give his surname, as he took in the rays on a beach protected from the sea predators by a coral reef.
But the 48-year-old, who now lives in mainland France and was holidaying on the island, said the issue had become increasingly high-profile in recent years, “because the attacks have multiplied.”
Just this year, a French honeymooner died when he was attacked by a shark as he surfed, and a teenage girl was killed while swimming just metres from the shore.
Swimmers, tourists, surfers, fishermen, politicians, activists: all have firm—and often clashing—opinions on how to handle a situation that is harming the Reunion’s reputation as a paradise destination.
While none deny that shark numbers have increased, they differ on the reasons for this recent spike.
Editor’s Note: The “Read more here” link below to the full story includes quotes and opinions from SeaShepherd, the radical animal terrorist group responsible for criminal acts on the high seas, and whose founder, Paul Watson, is an international fugitive. Using SeaShepherd as a source for a story of this type is akin to getting the views of the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nations on the subject of civil rights. –Don Zaidle, editor-in-chief.