Reunion island warned: 'Do more to protect tourists from shark attacks'

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Reunion island warned: 'Do more to protect tourists from shark attacks'

Government officials on the island of Reunion have been warned to step up the awareness of the risk of shark attacks on tourists following a spate of deaths in the area.

The warning comes after five fatal attacks on the island since 2011, with one death last month, of 15-year-old Sarah Roperth, occurring just 15ft from the shore.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Council Of State has now said officials on the Indian Ocean paradise island must "put up the appropriate warnings suited to bathing bans or restrictions in swimming or water sports clearly detailing the risks."

Sarah was snorkelling with a friend on holiday from mainland France when she was bitten in half by a shark at the bay of Saint-Paul, on the northwest of the island.

She was reportedly swimming in an unsupervised area that was actually forbidden to bathers due to its high shark numbers.

In July, Reunion announced bathing bans along half of the island's coastline, but the Council of State warned bathing bans are only effective if the areas out of bounds are signposted properly.

It said the measures taken up until now had been "insufficient to stop the recent multiplication of attacks".

According to the Huffington Post, the government also recently announced there would be a shark cull in the area, with 90 bull and tiger sharks set to be killed.

But not everyone is in favour of the move. The director of shark research at Florida Natural History Museum and an expert on shark attacks, George Burgess, called the cull "an archaic, knee-jerk reaction that seems more borne of vengeance than of science".

Sarah Roperth was the second person this year to be killed by a shark on Reunion.

A French tourist was also attacked and killed by a shark while out surfing on his honeymoon.

The 36-year-old was in the sea off the popular beach of Brisants de Saint-Gilles on the western coast of the French-controlled island while his new wife was sunbathing just 50 metres away.

Lifeguards managed to retrieve the victim from the water, and tried, but failed, to revive him on the beach.

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