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Fifth shark attack in La Réunion

Matthew Warren · 6 Oct 2011, 07:50

Published: 06 Oct 2011 10:05 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Oct 2011 07:50 GMT+02:00

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A French man had a terrifying ten minute wait in the water after a shark attacked him in his kayak and left him shouting out for help.

"It attacked the kayak's hull and took out a chunk," Jean-Pierre Castellani told local radio station Réunion Première after the attack. "I managed to keep my balance and bashed it with the paddle on its head. That made it flee."

"I then capsized and spent ten minutes shouting before being picked up by a boat," he said. "When I found myself in the water I didn't know if it would come back a second time."

The 51-year-old was out in the waters off Saint-Gilles on the west of the island on Wednesday morning when he was attacked by a tiger shark. 

The new attack has prompted authorities in the Indian Ocean island to extend the zone where swimming and water activities are banned.

In the last attack, on September 19th, experienced surfer and former bodyboard champion, Mathieu Schiller, was killed.

The wave of attacks is having an impact on tourism to the island, which is one of France's overseas departments.

"Tourists who came here to enjoy the sea are fed up and you see fewer people on the beaches," said one island habitant, reported by daily newspaper Le Parisien.

A number of reasons have been advanced for the sudden rise in attacks. Excessive fishing could drive sharks closer to the coast for food. Others think that sharks could be attracted by water that is more polluted.

Ultimately, anti-shark nets could be installed around the island. Nets have been used in Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong.


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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