June 29, 2017
Reunion Island Sharks: Surfers Volunteer As Bait For Experiments Amid Ban

Surfing may have been banned at Reunion Island following a spate of fatal shark attacks, yet a group of surfers are nevertheless taking to the sea, risking their lives to test new strategies for managing the oceanic predators.

Reunion Island is located east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean, and as Grind TV notes, its coastline is considered one of the deadliest in the world, due to an abundance of large sharks that frequent the waters surrounding the island. Since 2011, there have been 14 shark attacks on Reunion Island. Six of those incidents proved to be fatal, double the number of lethal shark attacks that occurred worldwide last year. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the most recent attack transpired last month, when a British woman was stuck in the surf, succumbing to her injuries.

Though surfing has been banned at Reunion until next February, the island represents a unique opportunity to test various techniques to deter the oceanic predators. A local council, the Reunion Shark Risk Reduction Committee, has worked together with the Reunion Prefect and the Region President to advance a plan whereby local surfers would be allowed back in the water, volunteering themselves as guinea pigs in experiments to see which methods will prove effective in managing the sharks. These methods will include nets, electrical barriers, baited drumlines like those controversially employed in Australia, spotters operating on shore, or even armed patrol units.Officials have asserted that 2015 will be a year of transition, as Reunion Island moves out from under the cloud of shark attacks, according to Stab. Davey Stolk, a surfer and businessman from Reunion, expressed cautious optimism that the plan would work.
"With the news of the plans to protect the surf spots of Reunion, most of the surfers that I know, and others in the surf tourism industry, [are] optimistically cautious that maybe at last we can put behind us what can best be described as a living nightmare that we have endured for the past three years."
Stolk pointed out that the methodology of shark management is all-important, with some of the proposals having a far better track record than others. Though it has not been widely publicized, officials at Reunion Island have also resorted to killing sharks, with at least three of the predators being culled after the latest attack.

[Image: Red Bull Content Pool via Stab]