Forensic expertise of victims of sharks attacks and bites in Reunion Island

paper8Published online on 10. August 2014

Expertise médicolégale des victimes d’attaques et de morsures de requins à la Réunion
Forensic expertise of victims of sharks attacks and bites in Reunion Island

A. Werbrouck, G. Van Grevelynghe, F. Landron, P. Charlier, C. Loire, C. Gauthier


Since 2011, the Reunion Island has seen a rise in shark attacks, modifying the data acquired on accidentology in the Indian Ocean. Here, we outline the expertise protocol established in 2011 after the discovery of a body bearing the stigmas of shark contact. Between 2011 and 2013, we studied a series of 9 victims of shark bites, including 8 attacks and one posthumous predation.


The average age of the victims was 28.3-years-old (sex ratio: 3.5). Six cases among 9 occurred during surface nautical activity. The lesions were located in lower limbs in 5 cases, upper limbs in 4 cases and trunk in 2 cases. All with multiple punctures. Arterial lesions have been found each time, causing haemorrhagic shock in 6 cases and death in 4 cases, always very rapid because of the cuttings of a large calibre artery with a significant loss of substance. The worst vascular injury always corresponded to femoral wounds. The involved shark species had always been identified. The aim of the forensic examination of victims of those shark maulings is to confirm the nature and origin of the bites, determine the prognosis of the lesions, and then determine the species and size of the animal responsible. In some cases, its target is to assess the vitality of the lesions. This approach, of which final goal is the implementation of appropriate preventive measures, requires forensic and ichtyological skills.

La Revue de Médecine Légale, Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2014, Pages 110–121



Leave a Reply