A 24-year-old swimmer is reportedly fighting for his life in Saint Pierre hospital after having his right leg bitten off last Saturday around 16h30 by an unidentified shark in Étang-Salé, a popular spot just down from St Leu.
This latest shark-related incident stands out for its confusion over the victim’s precise activity at the time of the attack. Reported as being a surfer, body boarder and body surfer on various news websites (following a statement from the authorities), a local bodyborder Lucas Vergnes believes the local was in fact swimming close to shore at the time of the incident.
Up until this year, nearly all of the controversy surrounding the series of shark attacks in Reunion Island has centred around surfers. On several occasions authorities have suggested attacks have come as a direct result of surfers being irresponsible and purposefully putting themselves at danger.
However, this latest incident will count as the second shark-related incident to involve a swimmer, the other being the fatal attack of a 15-year-old girl in mid-July that finally prompted authorities to take further measures and instate an official ban on all surfing and swimming in certain areas of the island (until 15th February 2014).
Both fish farming and a marine reserve on the west coast of the island are still thought to be a large part of the problem, along with growing amounts of wastewater being poured directly into the ocean. Scientific studies are currently underway to determine further possible causes.