Usual story, bull shark, hits leg, surfer dies etc on that godforsaken island…
Is a man-eaten-by-shark-on-Reunion-Island story news anymore? Yesterday, a surfer from Paris, Kim Mahbouli, went surfing, got hit, lost a leg, died.
The attack was the twenty-fourth in eight years and the eleventh fatal. In January, a fisherman died when a bull shark hit his leg.
Yeah, Mahbouli, who was twenty eight, was surfing in one of those banned areas ’cause the French way of solving an imbalance of bull sharks in the local ecosystem is to just stop people going in it.
And, yeah, his pals apparently had shark repellant devices strapped to their ankles (Modom leashes?).
But what are you going to do?
There’s waves and the odds of getting hit by a shark, as we keep hearing, are about the same as visitation from curious aliens or a meteor strike.
Tourists getting their legs bitten off and subsequently dying on the beach has ruined tourism on that Indian Ocean-Franco paradise. Y’ain’t seen anything like this Creole version of Tahiti, with its volcano and reef passes and exceptional boulangeries.
And the people! Some dark, some light, most possessing some beguiling physical characterstic, blue eyes popping out of choco skin, for instance.
But ever since a marine sanctuary was created in 2007, the bull sharks have taken hold of the ocean.
“There is no more life. There is no more turtles. There is no more fish. No more nothing. No more reef sharks. Because the bull sharks have eaten everything. And now, because there’s nothing left to eat, it’s the surfers.” Jeremy Flores.
A few years ago, I interviewed Jez Flores, who grew up there, about it.
“From generation to generation there were always fishermen and then people from overseas, environmentalists, came and they stopped fishing in a 10-kilometre area where all the shark attacks are now happening,” says Jez. “That was eight years ago. By the time they stopped fishing the sharks didn’t have anything to fear anymore so they started coming and now it’s dead territory. They ate everything. There is no more life. There is no more turtles. There is no more fish. No more nothing. No more reef sharks. Because the bull sharks have eaten everything. And now, because there’s nothing left to eat, it’s the surfers.”
When thirteen-year-old shredder Elio Canestri was killed in front of his pals in 2015, Jez told me, “All these sharks, bro, fuck, it’s the real deal. Perfect waves. Sunny day. Eight kids in the water and the shark attacked in the middle of everyone. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine how those kids feel?”
Even Kelly Slater, who ain’t gung-ho when it comes to killing animals, advocated a cull.
“Honestly, I won’t be popular for saying this but there needs to be a serious cull on Reunion and it should happen every day. There is a clear imbalance happening in the ocean there. If the whole world had these rates of attack nobody would use the ocean and literally millions of people would be dying like this. The French govt needs to figure this out asap. 20 attacks since 2011!?”
Jez visits regularly. He don’t surf.
“It’s not worth the risk,” he said.
(Note: It’s five am in Reunion. Got a few pals there. I’ll call ’em for the inside story in a few hours.)