The end of July saw the sad and unfortunate death of a French visitor who lost his life in what was considered to be a shark attack. 16 August saw another man killed by sharks. The Seychelles has never seen shark attacks in the past; it was a given that the sharks in the waters of the Seychelles are friendly creatures. Hundreds of people dive every day: local fisherman dive for sea cucumber harvesting and visitors dive for fun. Shark encounters are a given, daily occurrence, as this is the Indian Ocean and it is infested with sharks. In fact, some people choose to dive for the sole purpose of swimming with the sharks.
Who would have thought that a shark attack would happen in the calm and beautiful anse Lazio bay? Why anse Lazio? What is changing in the environment that would cause such an attack on a human? Whilst a lot of questions need to be answered, the local authorities are gathering the advice of experts outside of the Seychelles who can identify the source of the problem and rectify it.
There are differing opinions as to how this situation should be dealt with. Some argue for killing the shark. But what if there is more than one shark? Environmentalists, on the other hand, argue that we should protect the shark. Is there a good or bad way of dealing with this? One thing is certain, however. There are now two gaps in the world because of this incident. There should never be a third. All that can be done is being done, at the present moment. If anyone has any advice or ideas as to dealing with this situation, now is the time to speak.
As for the current situation on the beach, it is now open for visitors. This is good, because the beach is one of the main attractions that visitors come to see. Swimming, however, has been banned until the water is verified to be safe. There is a 24/7 police patrol on the beach, and they do not have an easy task. There are still people who want to swim with a shark that has killed two people.
There will be a memorial service at anse Lazio for the late Mr Redmond, and we send our sincere condolences to Jemma. Our only wish is that her memories of the Seychelles would have been different.
PRESS RELEASE (latest release), 23 August.
Marine Safety Press Release Update
The shark experts, Mr. Geremy Cliff and Mr. Michael Anderson-Reade from the Kwazulu- Natal Sharks Board arrived in the Seychelles yesterday morning on an Air Seychelles Flight from South Africa. In the afternoon they met with senior government representatives from the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration, Environment Department, Praslin Development Fund and the local police to discuss their work programme over the next 6 days. According to their Terms of Reference they will assist the Government of Seychelles with the following:
Comprehensive prevention and safety measures
Determine and propose a comprehensive list of prevention and safety measures that the authorities need to apply, along with the geographical extent and the length of time these will require to lower the possibility of a shark attack. These should include advisories to swimmers and divers, surveillance systems, rescue respond measures and first aid accessibility.
Elimination of the potential danger
Identification of the shark species and size from the information available to determine what may have triggered or cause the attacks. What methods can be utilized to abate or remove the particular shark threat?
Other contributing factors
Identify and list other biological and anthropogenic contributing factors that may need to be considered such as disposal of food from yachts and other pleasure boats from the shore that may affect shark feeding behaviour. How can these be best addressed?
The two South African experts also did some preliminary assessment of the injuries of the two victims from photos provided by the police and the piece of tooth that has been retrieved from the second victim by doctors. Based on the preliminary assessment of the injuries, they are inclined to think that the species of shark involved is a great white, although they are not discarding the possibility of a tiger shark at this stage. Further detail studies will be conducted during the coming days.
This morning they have been meeting the local fishermen and in the afternoon they are meeting with local technical experts in an effort to gather as much information as possible about Seychelles maritime policies, laws, local marine conditions and climate.
On Mahe senior government officials met with the representatives of tourism businesses today and briefed them on actions being undertaken.
The ban on swimming in Anse Lazio, Petit Anse Kerlan, Anse Georgette, Curieuse and St. Pierre is still on. In other areas swimmers and divers are being asked to take necessary precautions.
In an effort to increase surveillance, support has been sought from Air Seychelles pilots who regularly over fly the area to keep a look out for any large fish in the sea and to report any sightings. This is being supported by patrol boats from Seychelles National Parks, local fishermen and the Coast Guard.
The government of Seychelles wishes to reiterate that it is against putting a bounty on sharks and the indiscriminate killing of sharks. It wishes to reaffirm the fact that it will apply internationally accepted best practices to address the problem based on advice from the shark experts.
In the meantime all fishermen who catch a shark are being asked to report to Mr. Rodney Quatre, the Research manager of the National Parks Authority who is collecting data on sharks. His phone number is 2726104.
For media Information please contact Mr Jean Toussaint at 2722352.