Hunt down sharks to protect surfers? The dilemma facing France's Reunion Island
It is a sobering statistic: eleven deaths at sea in ten years. Along the coastline of France's Reunion Island, surfers, but also swimmers, are regularly attacked and sometimes killed by sharks. For the island paradise, it's a problem that's causing major concern for the surfing community and the tourism sector. Our reporters Clovis Casali and Julien Sauvaget went to the French overseas department in the Indian Ocean to find out what's being done to shake off its "Shark Island" image.
Over the past decade, France's Reunion Island, once a surfing paradise, has turned into a shark attack hotspot. But what has caused this situation? Is it the intense industrialisation and development on the island's west coast, or the effect of global warming? Or is it simply the geographical location of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean that explains these shark attacks?
The island is deeply divided over what to do about the predators. Some call for leaving the species alone and preserving the ecosystem, while many surfers advocate an all-out war on sharks. The government has invested millions in schemes to prevent further attacks and has since closed all beaches. Only lagoons and places with safety nets are open for swimming, meaning huge losses for the tourism sector.
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