For the seventeenth time in the past four years, there has been a shark attack on a human off the coast of Réunion Island.
Eddy Chaussalet, 47, was attacked while surfing off the shoreline near Le Port, at a famous surf spot called la Follette, earlier today. According to French magazine Surf Session, Chaussalet sustained serious injuries to his forearm as a result of the attack, but will not undergo amputation following analysis by France’s rescue department, Service Départemental d'Incendie et de Secours (SDIS).
Chaussalet is a veteran of the local surf community, and can regularly be seen in competitions and at la Follette.
The attack on Chaussalet is just the latest in a string of attacks that have brought notoriety to the small French island.
In April, Elio Canestri, a 13-year-old up-and-coming surfer, was killed by a bull shark. His was the seventh fatal shark attack in the past four years. Just a few weeks prior to his death, a 22-year-old woman was killed while going for a swim.
The latest attacks come at an interesting point in the discussion about surfing’s future at Réunion Island. The island famously banned surfing in 2013 in response to a spate of shark attacks.
This year was meant to be a year of transition away from the ban. Island officials began testing the effectiveness of a slew of shark deterrent measures ranging from drum lines and nets to shark spotters while slowly allowing locals back into the surf. The hope is to repeal the ban on surfing in 2016 if anti-shark measures proved effective.
The shark attacks have had a drastic effect on Réunion Island’s surf culture.
When bodyboard champion Mathieu Schiller was killed in 2011, there were 1,600 licensed surfers living on Réunion; today there are 400, and the number of surf schools on the island has dwindled from 14 to just one. Just this past April, Hugo Savalli, France’s 2012 surfing champion, confided to the French paper Le Figaro that he has stopped surfing at Réunion entirely since the passing of Schiller.
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