Fatal Shark Attack Reported Off Reunion Island, One Of The World’s Deadliest Coastlines

A swimmer sustained severe injuries from a shark attack near the French island of Reunion on Saturday, losing her life on what is considered to be one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world, located in the Indian Ocean.

The shark struck as the woman, who has not been identified, swam in the sea at a beach in southwestern l’Etang-Sale. The victim, who was around 20-years-old, suffered severe wounds to her leg in the attack, and received first aid at the beach before she was transported to a hospital. According to the local prefecture, the woman died of cardiac arrest as a result of her injuries.

Reunion Island is a hotspot of shark activity, with more than 10 attacks occurring in the last two years, five of which proved to be fatal. Such a high rate of incidents makes Reunion Island one of the deadliest spots in the world for shark attacks, prompting the local government to initiate a seasonal surfing ban in 2013. The initiative was coupled with a shark cull, with authorities announcing a plan to kill 90 sharks along the island’s coastline, in addition to 24 already harvested for scientific purposes that year before the cull was proposed.

In 2013, 15-year-old Sarah Roperth was killed by a shark while snorkeling at Reunion Island, just 15 feet from shore. The shark carried away a portion of her body after striking the girl with such force that it bit her in half. A 36-year-old surfer on his honeymoon was killed in May of that year, and the attacks continued into 2014, as a 51-year-old surfer suffered multiple lacerations from an incident that took place at Saint-Leu in the southwest of the island. Last October, a 23-year-old man was attacked by a shark at almost the exact same spot as Saturday’s fatal incident, losing his right leg.

A number of explanations have been posited for the sharks’ strikingly aggressive behavior. The creation of a marine reserve on the island’s west side has been cited, as fishing has been banned, allowing the marine ecosystem to grow and attracting more sharks to the region. Another theory postulates that an increasing amount of wastewater running into the sea is attracting sharks.

The Reunion Island attack isn’t the first fatal shark incident reported this year, as surfer Tadashi Nakahara was killed earlier this month at Ballina beach in Australia. Struck from below by a white shark, Nakahara lost both of his legs in the attack, quickly succumbing to fatal blood loss.

[Photo by Chris Hyde/ Getty Images]