A shark cull will kill 90 sharks offshore Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. It might not be the celebration of Shark Week that you had in mind.
But Surfer revealed last week that the government has shut down all swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding until October 1 in the wake of two fatal shark attacks in the past three months.
The two horrific attacks involved a French surfer on his honeymoon, followed up by a teen snorkeling just yards from shore. The 15-year-old girl was instantly cut in half by her attacker.
But closing the beach is not enough. The island relies on tourism, which is effectively shut down if people can’t get into the water.
So the authorities said that they would also cull 90 sharks. The two species that will be collected are tiger and bull sharks, which are the ones known to be involved in the Reunion shark attacks.
Will the cull work? Some people say no.
Florida Natural History Museum and shark attack expert George Burgess denounced the program in the Huffington Post. He said that revenge killing of sharks would simply blow up in the tourist industry’s face.
But still…it’s hard to feel sorry for the shark after it gets caught cutting a teen-ager in half.
In South Africa, which has areas sometimes menaced by great white sharks, officials have been experimenting with shark exclusion nets to protect surfers and marine wildlife without harming sharks. But it may be too soon to say how well the program will work.
In Reunion, Surfer said that many people blame a nearby marine reserve. Large schools of food species reportedly attract large numbers of sharks to the area where humans aren’t allowed to fish.
If that’s the case, the shark cull might not do much. As soon as one shark is killed and a slot comes open, a new shark might be attracted to the territory.