Yesterday Jeremy Flores posted a tribute to Alexandre ‘Krapo’ Naussance, who was killed by a shark after a few days in Reunion Island.
It didn’t take long for the post on Instagram to play host to the now ubiquitous debate around shark culling, which began with this comment, from none other than Kelly Slater:
“Honestly, I won’t be popular for saying this but there needs to be a serious cull on Reunion and it should happen everyday. There is a clear imbalance happening in the ocean there. If the whole world had these rates of attack nobody would use the ocean and literally millions of people would be dying like this. The French govt needs to figure this out asap. 20 attacks since 2011!?”
Whilst Jeremy thanked Slater for his comments, and suggested that he agreed, many other commenters reacted with fury, confused that someone who professes as deep a love and understand for the marine environment could hold such a opinions.
Subsequently Stab mag reached out to Kelly, to ask him to elaborate. Here’s what he told them:
“Reunion has had a far greater number of attacks and a higher percentage of deaths.” he began “And it seems to have been something specifically created by human interference from what Jeremy has told me. There is some unnatural order occurring there that doesn’t happen nearby in Mauritius or Rodriguez Island.”[sic]
The exact reasons for the prolific shark attack rate on Reunion, when compared with neighbouring island with a similar ecology are hotly contested. However as Kelly observes, the dominant theories all include human interference. Many people point to a depleted fish stock, due to overfishing, whilst others cite the urbanisation of the island, which has created areas of shallow muddy water, due to urban runoff, which is particularly attractive to bull sharks, who make up a large proportion of the attackers.
Another dominant theory is that the marine reserves are to blame. However Kelly is dubious about confusing correlation and causation with regard to the areas most attacks take place. Noting that “most of the good waves on the island are within the marine reserve, so it makes sense that’s where most shark-human interaction would happen anyhow.”
He rounded out his argument by stating: “I surely don’t want to be a scientific authority in any way in this debate, It’s just one man’s opinion.”
And so the debate rages on, let us know your opinion in the comments.
Want to learn more? Watch Jeremy Flores’ recent film exploring the issue further here.
Cover Photo Daniel Kwok