Human-shark interactions: The case study of Reunion island in the south-west Indian Ocean

Last modified: 
December 14, 2019 - 10:33am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 02/2017
Authors: Anne Lemahieu, Antonin Blaison, Estelle Crochelet, Geoffrey Bertrand, Gwenaëlle Pennober, Marc Soria
Journal title: Ocean & Coastal Management
Volume: 136
Pages: 73 - 82
ISSN: 09645691

An uncommon series of shark attacks, mostly involving surfers, occurred on the West coast of Reunion Island between 2011 and 2013, causing eight deaths. Following these events, which resulted in social, economic and political upheaval, and referred to as the "shark crisis", a scientific program with the aim of understanding shark behavior and ecology in Reunion Island was launched in 2012. It integrated spatial and temporal monitoring protocol of coastal uses allowing for the study of shark attack repercussions on the dynamics of 15 types of uses. In this paper, we bring shark and users observations together in order to assess human-shark interactions. Firstly, we assess the impacts that shark attacks have triggered in terms of users spatiotemporal distribution between 2011 and 2013. Secondly, we explore human-shark interactions in 2013 using cross-mapping techniques. Results show that three areas (Saint-Gilles, Trois-Bassins, Etang-Salé) have high levels of potential interaction and should be of high interest for the local authorities and stakeholders for further mitigation policies. Although further studies are needed to better understand the link between shark presence and shark attack, this study provides a first insight into human-shark interactions in Reunion Island.

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