'No swimming' signs on the beach at the town of l'Etang Sale a day after the attack took place. Photo: AFP/GETTY

no swimming

A 20-year old woman died last Saturday after she was attacked by a shark at a beach in l'Etang-Sale, situated on the southeast coast of the French island. The woman was swimming close to shore when the shark bit her on the leg. After receiving first-aid on the scene she was taken to a local hospital, where she suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the wounds.

A 23-year old man lost his leg in October of last year after he was attacked in almost exactly the same spot. Several months before that in July, a 51-year old surfer was bitten multiple times at Saint-Leu, the famous left-hander on the southwest of the island. 11 shark attacks were reported in the two years before that, 5 of which proved fatal.

A Rip Curl Search 'CT event was held at Saint-Leu back in 2005 -- something which would be almost unthinkable now. Following the spike in shark attacks over the last few years a ban was imposed on surfing on the island. A handful of locals -- French champion Jorgann Couzinet among them -- can still be found surfing the waves on which Jeremy Flores was raised, but Reunion's appeal as a surf trip destination has greatly diminished.

The creation of a marine reserve on the island's west coast has been widely cited as the major contributing factor to the increase in attacks, the banning of fishing in the area resulting in an abundance of fish and consequently more sharks. Increased amounts of wastewater running into the sea may also be to blame.

Jeremy Flores recently posted the following message on his Facebook page:

"This is "l'hermitage" in Reunion island. I've Been thinking a lot about home at the moment, more shark attacks this week. On a young girl swimming couple of mètres from the shore. I've been disgusted reading some of the comments saying "humans deserves to be eaten".... Wtf is wrong with people? So sad. My heart goes out to the family"