A young student from Etang Salé was attacked by a shark off the shores of Reunion Island on Saturday, 27 August 2016. Laurent Chardard (21) was surfing in Boucan Canot at around 5pm when the attack took place. It was reported that Laurent has lost both his right arm and right foot due to severe bites. He was rescued by a life guard and treated on the beach before being taken to the hospital in a helicopter.
Laurent was surfing with a dozen other surfers at one of the two beaches that have recently been covered by exclusive anti-shark safety nets. At the time of the attack the red flag that prohibits any entry into the water was raised due to concerns about a hole discovered in the nets. “That same morning the nets were inspected and a two metre hole was found so they closed the beach,” says South African surfing legend Davy Stolk, who lives in St Leu and runs Davy’s Surf Shop. “But the swell was big so the guys still hit the water while the waves were breaking over the nets…”
Reunion has a long and devastating history with shark attacks. This is the 19th shark attack since 2011, despite government’s controversial ban on all surfing and swimming in 2013. Seven of these attacks have been fatal and more than half involve surfers or body boarders. This is another major setback for the Reunion public as well as the island’s tourism given the fact that the anti-shark safety nets were deemed a promising solution to the island’s haunting shark problem.
*Lead Image: Empty wave at l’Hermitage. All Images © Greg Ewing