Reunion Island top spot for ‘horrible’ shark attacks, podcast says

Reunion Island, a French territory located in the Indian Ocean, is said to have magnificent waterfalls and some of the best rums in the world. The beaches are idyllic, the water is warm – and, according to a new podcast, it’s the world’s #1 shark attack spot.

“From 2011 to 2019, there was a terrible increase in the density of [bull] Sharks Over There,” Dan Duane, host of “Reunion: Shark Attacks in Paradise,” which examines Reunion Island and the bloody assaults that made it a deadly destination. “The French call them bulldog sharks, but the pitbull is more appropriate. They struggle and tear each other apart.

“These are horrible things.”

Shark attacks are so prevalent around the island that swimming and surfing are banned everywhere except the coral lagoons.

As for the number of bull sharks around the island, Duane told the Post that estimates vary wildly: “There are between 300 and 3,000.”

Bull sharks are known for their aggressiveness.
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Reunion Island, hotspot for shark attacks
A sign warning of shark attacks on Etang-Sale beach in Réunion.
AFP via Getty Images

Along the island’s 20 miles of coastline, 11 people have died in shark attacks since 2011 and eight others have been maimed. Despite everything, Reunion attracted a record 500,000 tourists in 2017.

“In the space of two months, on this small stretch of sand, a guy [got] one bitten leg, two guys [got] chewed to pieces, another guy [got] his canoe bitten in half,” Duane said. “And the same thing happens year after year.”

Richard Martyn Turner, a 44-year-old Briton who vacationed in Reunion with his wife in 2019, was assaulted and killed while snorkeling. Police found no trace of him, but Turner’s wife was able to confirm he was attacked by a shark after one was caught and X-rayed. In the fish’s stomach: a hand still wearing its ring.

A fenced area for swimmers on Reunion Island has been tested as a deterrent against sharks.
A fenced area for swimmers on Reunion Island has been tested as a deterrent against sharks.
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New York Post/Mike Guillen

Sometimes attacks happen because people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kim Mabouli, a 28-year-old French tourist, was assaulted in 2019 while surfing in an area where swimming was not allowed. The board was found in front of his remains.

As for why the waters on the island, about 420 miles east of Madagascar, are so infested with sharks, experts attribute it to the fact that the area is part of a so-called “highway sharks”, where the man-eaters travel between Australia and South Africa. It can also be impacted by the fact that there is little incentive to hunt sharks on an island where the sale of shark meat is illegal.

But the natives have a solution that he hopes will reduce the shark population and make the waters safer for tourists and locals – many of whom are angry at the removal of their surf spots.

LA REUNION - AUGUST 10: A bulldog shark is captured on August 10, 2012 in Reunion.  Fabien Bujon was attacked and seriously injured by a bulldog shark on Reunion Island on August 8, 2012. (Photo by Thierry Esch/Paris Match via Getty Images)
A bulldog shark is captured on the island.
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French gendarmes transport the body of a French surfer attacked and killed by a shark in Reunion.
French gendarmes transport the body of a French surfer attacked and killed by a shark on the island of Reunion.
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Reunion shark attacks in paradise
Shutterstock / Willyam Bradberry

“They kill sharks with these things called drumlines,” Duane, who worked on the podcast with Hollywood director and producer Adam McKay (“The Big Short,” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”), told the Post. . “It’s a big baited hook, anchored to the bottom of the ocean. The shark bites the hook and gets stuck. They keep a fisherman on duty, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Once a shark is hooked, the fisherman is informed of the coordinates. “He’s got 90 minutes to get there,” Duane said. “If it’s a non-target [sea creature], he is free. If it’s a bull shark, they shoot it. The current count is that they have killed 135 sharks since 2014.

The technique is not without controversy. “There have been arguments about how to prevent this from happening,” Duane said, referring to the shark attacks. “Is it OK to kill sharks? Does killing sharks even work? It seems to work. The last attacks date back to 2019, so they seem to have it under control.

Meanwhile, a special underwater fence designed to keep predators out has been tested – but it may not be enough to quell the vicious sharks around Reunion Island.

As Duane said, “The attacks are all pretty horrific. Traumatic experiences of people bitten.

TOPSHOT - A policeman stands next to the body of a bodyboarder killed by a shark, covered in a white sheet next to his bodyboard on February 21, 2017 on a beach in Saint-Andre, on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean.  - A 26-year-old bodyboarder was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in dangerous water on February 21, 2017 off Saint-André.  The man had his femoral artery severed and bled to death, according to firefighters.  (Photo by Richard BOUHET/AFP) (Photo by RICHARD BOUHET/AFP via Getty Images)
A police officer stands next to the body of a bodyboarder, who bled to death after having his femoral artery cut in a 2017 shark attack on the island.
AFP via Getty Images

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