Reunion’s Surfers Demand Actions after Fatal Shark Attack

Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
26. July 2012

After third shark attack fatality,
Protesters ask Prefect of Reunion Island to allow shark fishing in Marine Reserve.

In the aftermath of the latest fatal shark attack in Reunion (here), about 300 people (most of them surfers) gathered in front of the Prefecture building in Saint-Denis early this afternoon.

The protesters demanded from the Prefect to implement measures that would prevent such tragic shark incidents from happening again.

“We made this gathering so that the prefecture is beginning to listen to us, and we can find solutions to the overpopulation of sharks,” said bodyboarder Amaury Lavernhe.

The ‘Océan Prévention Réunion’ Association (OPR) said about the protest: „… this is an important opportunity to voice our outrage and to demand that real steps are taken to stop this massacre (=fatal shark attack)

More concretely, a delegation of ten people had the chance to meet Reunion’s Prefect, Michel Lalande, and asked him to open the Marine Reserve for shark-fishermen. It is believed that this nature reserve has become a kind of ‘pantry’ for Reunion’s sharks on the west coast. This has consequently led to an abundance of sharks and a higher risk of attacks in the region. Although there seems to be a lack of scientific evidences to support this conjecture. According to some local scientists, it appears to be a combination of factors that can explain these shark bite incidents.

Outside the Prefecture building, the protesters were shouting : ‘Open the Reserve now ‘.
After a minute of silence to honour the shark attack victims, numerous surfboards were laid in the garden of the Prefecture as a protest gesture.

UPDATE, 27. July :  Please see the related Video Surfers protest outside the Prefecture in Reunion Island

 Source and Photo Credit: zinfos974. Other Sources: , facebook.


  1. Angel

    This is nonsense. If you can not regard the ocean as a whole system, just dot’t use it. You have to have respect for the Ocean and everything in it. If you don’t respect it, don’t be a part of it. Go swim in the pool, surf at the artificial machines.
    No one is going to kill the sharks because you want to surf freely. You know that surfing has its dangers, shraks being one of them.
    If we start killing animals for your pleasure, than we have no respect for the ocean as well.
    Domestic dogs kills hundreds of people each year. A lot more than sharks do on land, where we live in. So we should kill all the dogs as well !!! This is land.
    Ocean is the fish territory, you use their terretory and ask us to kill the fish becasue they harm you ? You live on land.. that is where yoou belong… Ocean belongs to its owners.. and humans are not the owners..

    • Totally! Being a scuba diver, I face the same challenges but accept it as a part of the risks that goes with it… Sharks have a purpose and a major role to play in our oceans to keep the equilibrium. I do feel for all the losses but again, there is also major lost in other sports and its either you embrace it all or quit doing it…plus put it that way…you kill sharks, you leave more rooms for other predators such as barracudas, etc.

  2. Hoss

    A demand by far beyond all logic! It’s like you wanna skateboard freely in the middle of the highway and expect not to be hit by cars, and if you do go protest and ask the authorities to allow you burn some cars and kill some drivers to have less cars on the highway!! Come on people you can’t just kill to have fun!

  3. nori

    Im shocked and shamed to see these surfers in the photo and read about their actions, who do they think they are demanding a kill of sharks in a MARINE RESERVE?! Do they think the whole world revolves around their surf?….Do they think its more important then the health of the ecosystem, more important then protecting ocean habitat and more important then allowing the marine life to recover in sanctuary from previous years of over fishing? Treating mother ocean with such disresepect is asking for trouble, with attitudes like this my opinion is that its no wonder there have been shark attacks.

    The ocean is a living breathing system,not soley these surfers play ground…..

    • Dan

      Condolences for the killed surfers.

      However, hunting all sharks is a selfish and stupid idea, accelerating the loss of oceanic biodiversity.
      I have the same opinion as nori.

  4. Although deeply sadened for the loss of a life, I agree with Angel’s comment 100% –
    The ocean belongs to the sharks :period:, and it is our government’s resposibility to prevent such attacks in popular tourist locations. Surfing in parts of the ocean that is know as a shark populated areas is just playing with your life! – would you swim in a river full of crocodiles??

  5. Elliot

    Rebuttal for this can be summed up as; outdoor hobbies sometimes result in death. If surfers can’t accept this, then perhaps they should take up a less adventurous hobby. Like knitting.

    I say this as an avid scuba diver, I love the oceans and they would be a mess without sharks. Not one surfer has done any good for the ocean that amounts to the good that sharks do year round.

  6. Aaron T

    Are you kidding the sharks live in the ocean we do not we have no right to kill them because they are getting in the way of your activity. Save the sharks from the senseless murder for the fins on there backs they were there first. if they don’t like it don’t swim there.

  7. Paul Armstrong

    Simple solution – surf someplace else! Obviously not a good spot if the sharks mistake you for a turtle… I don’t care how good the break is…


    • Paul, agree with you but another option if surfing, diving, kayaking or swimming in high risk areas is a product called Shark Shield. Proven over more than 10 years and if you go to their website read the many user testimonials where a Shark Shield has saved lives. 

  8. Leanne King, BSc

    Unbelievable. The ocean is where sharks live. They can not live anywhere else. They do not have the option to get out and walk on land. By going in the ocean, YOU are actively entering THEIR domain and must accept the risks of doing so. If you don’t like that, there’s a simple answer – don’t go in.

    Nowhere in the world is their an overpopulation of sharks – if only that was the case! IF there is a significantly larger population here (and that is only an IF) then Reunion Island should celebrate that fact and work harder to protect it, as across the rest of the world populations of all sharks are dramatically diminishing – up to 90% in some areas.

    Surfing is a privilege, a sport taken up by humans as a hobby, on the most part. As with all other sports, you must accept the risks that come with it. I personally SCUBA dive, both as my job and as a recreational activity. When I roll off a boat, I accept the risks that come with it. Surfers must do the same – as those going on a safari accept that they may just get eaten by a lion. You cannot decide to rid the ocean of sharks just so you can play in it. I always thought most surfers were meant to have the utmost respect for the ocean. I guess not if nearly 300 of them want a shark cull, despite the complete lack of scientific evidence for the need and the dire straits of sharks well-advertised around the rest of the world.

    To describe shark attacks as a “massacre” is laughable – its anthropomorphic, it makes sharks sound like they have an agenda. It’s loaded language designed to incite hatred and fear towards the sharks. 

    Things that kill more people than sharks EVERY year:
    Obesity – lightning – texting – hippos – airplanes – volcanoes – fetish strangling – Black Friday sales – falling out of bed – bathtubs – deer – icicles – hot dogs – tornadoes – jellyfish – dogs – ants – high school football – vending machines – roller coasters

    I don’t see anyone calling for a cull of chocolate bars or hot dogs – do you? Surely there must be a better way to protect the residents of Reunion Island than culling sharks? How many people are killed by other people?

    Has anybody even considered what happens to oceanic systems when sharks disappear? Sharks are an apex predator. With their disappearance, lower species flourish, systematically destroying coral reefs and leading to the utter devastation of the reefs. Then what? Sharks keep the populations of other animals that can cause damage in check e.g. the giant squid. I certainly wouldn’t want one of those fellas attacking me, I’ll take my chances with a shark thanks!

    Does anybody in this protest have even the slightest bit of knowledge of natural populations of apex predators? They will only exist if their is the food web to support them. Nature has a natural ability to balance populations. Environments can only support a limited number of individuals, especially of apex predators. “Overpopulation” is an idea invented by humans, to allow them to commit crimes against nature but make them look like they are doing something constructive and positive. Nature regulates itself – as long as humans don’t intervene in the first place. 

    You open up the doors of this reserve and it will be the means to an end for the ocean life around the island.

    I invite these protesters to contact me and I will happily educate them on the importance of maintaining and developing shark populations, not destroying them.

    As a common diver saying goes – “Sharks, they live in the sea”

  9. Sylvano

    So we should kill all bear because someone got attacked in the wood? and all dog in a city because one got bitten? I am sorry, sharks have no legs, they are in their element, get the fuck out of the water if you are not willing to take the risk, they are in their habitat, what is wrong with human?! People die doing mountain climbing, should we destroy the mountains? Oh no, of course they are not alive, so we can’t… people die in sky diving, should we destroy all planes?  You practice a sport that man invented, sharks didn’t ask you to ride on a thing that can be mistaken from a seal, you are taking the risk, so deal with it or get out of the water. I do trekking and camping, IF i get attack by a bear, that will be my choice, I won’t ask to kill all bear, but listen, at least when I do Camping and trekking, I am on the ground, where I am suppose to be. 

  10. Sarah

    Save the Sharks!!!

  11. Shark Lover SA

    What a relief to read intelligent comments after such a ridiculous article. These “surfers” are not true watermen, they clearly do not care about the ocean at all and should rather stick to riding wave pools where you are guaranteed not to encounter any sharks. As “ocean lovers” they should want to protect their playground and all marine life. The surfers should be calling for more shark research to gain an insight into shark behaviour in their area and then make responsible decisions about the time of day they choose to surf etc.

  12. Angel

    Wonderful comments from everyone…
    Thank you all..
    Please read the following post from a few months ago.
    See the difference in the South African Surfers, true Ocean People and the Reunion Surfers…

  13. Carol

    This “demand” is ridiculous!! If you surfer dudes can’t swim WITH the sharks, stay OUT of THEIR home!! Period! 

  14. dansk. tak. verden er modbydeligt mod dyr, når kun MENNESKER der lever farligt i deres områder– MED RISIKO– og leger muslel-mand– DYR kan ikke tale, lær at forstå naturen uden riffel— MODBYDELIGT MORDVÅBEN på sageløse hav dyr- DET er havets dyr— havet— nyd de smukke dyr– uden våben.

    • Angel

      This is one of the most astonising comments I have ever heard.
      You can write this to almost all animal related subjects anywhere.
      Thank you…I call it abuse of intelligence. We are intelligent and we think that it is God given right of ours to kill. We think we are superior to all animals just because we have brains to build weapons to do so. And please keep in mind, the same weapons kills their makers as well. So animals are not the only victims to these so called “Machos” but humans as well.
      Thank you for the wonderful point of view.

  15. casa rural la rioja

    Reunion’s Surfers Demand Actions after Fatal Shark Attack – Shark Year Magazine , es interesante, desde que os recibo no puedo parar de mirar todas vuestras sugerencias y me alegra cuando recibo uno más, sois lo mejor en español, me encata vuestra presentación y el curre que hay detrás. Un beso y abrazo,GRACIAS POR VUESTRO TRABAJO, nos alegrais la vida.

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