Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reunion Island: Paradise Lost

Elio Canestri doing what he loved - surfing with his friends

Tragedy struck Reunion Island again last weekend when 13 year old surfer Elio Canestri was attacked by a shark and died from his wounds.

This news is devastating on several levels. First, the attack resulted in a fatality and any loss of life is devastating. Second, the victim was a child. Third, the attack was extremely violent and prolonged; more a mauling than the typical one bite attack stemming from a case of mistaken identity.

Fourth and finally, the attack occurred within weeks of the government loosening the reigns on a nearly two year surfing ban after a series of attacks (many of them fatal) in the last few years. Ahead of lifting the ban permanently early next year, the government has taken significant steps to mitigate the risk of another attack including the installation of towers, drum lines and underwater cameras among other measures.

Given Reunion is a small island, it's safe to assume it's a tight knit community and therefore family, friends, surfers and non-surfers alike are surely reeling from this tragedy. Next steps are surely being considered and run the gamut from proceeding as planned with lifting the ban to resuming the ban to another shark cull. All have their supporters and detractors as well as their pros and cons.

What are your thoughts? What would you do?

Vaya con dios, Elio

Until next time, may your waves be six feet and glassy.