2016 Summary of the Shark Fishing Program in Réunion Island

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
01. January 2018

In 2016, a total of 85 specimens were killed in the fishing program for shark hazard mitigation off the western coast of Reunion Island – 49 of them were bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and 36 were tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier). The details on each specimen are provided in Table 1. below.

The catch numbers have almost doubled in comparison to the 47 specimens wich were landed in the previous year (see 2015 summary here).

A 4,40 metres long tiger shark was the biggest specimen in the 2016 season. The catch of the female tiger occurred in Saint Paul Bay in late March.

The biggest bull shark, which measured 3,10 metres in length, was also caught in the waters of Saint Paul Bay in early August.

Only a minority (20%) of the shark catches consisted of relatively small  specimens, with a body length of under 2,50 metres (see fig.2).

November turned out to be the most productive month with 13 captures (8 tiger and 5 bull sharks), while the lowest catch rate was recorded in May (1 bull shark).

Réunion Island – Shark Incidents in 2016

Only the following non-fatal shark incident was reported in 2016 (see also here):

Date: 27. August 2016
Boucan Canot Beach
Victim: Male (21)
Activity: Bodyboarding
Injuries: Bitten on left arm, right foot severed
Involved shark: Unknown



La Réunion: Surfer severely injured in first shark attack this year

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
29. August 2016

reunion1On Saturday (August 27th) shortly after 5 pm, a young man , aged 21, was attacked by a shark while surfing at the beach of Boucan-Canot on Réunion Island.
It is reported that the victim suffered major injuries (left arm and right foot severed). He was evacuated by helicopter to the Centre hospitalier Félix-Guyon in Saint-Denis. It’s the first shark incident in ‘La Réunion’ this year.

The incident occurred while boating and swimming were officially prohibited.
Last year, a new seabed-to-surface shark barrier was installed off the beach of Boucan-Canot (more info with video here).
But following an early-morning inspection on Saturday, the town of Saint-Paul had decided that the shark barrier was partly non-operational after the nets had deteriorated due to a strong swell in the night before. So, the red flag was hoisted at Boucan-Canot and all water activities were prohibited.

Shortly after the incident on Saturday, local authorities have announced that they may conduct post-attack fishing procedures in the immediate vicinity of the site of the incident. In the year 2015, a total number of 47 sharks (including one great white) were caught in Réunion Island (please see our catch summary here). At least 8 of those sharks were killed during such mandatory post-attack procedures.

Related News-Video, uploaded by Zinfos974 on 27. August 2016:

Shark Attack in La Reunion.

La Réunion: Great white among 47 sharks caught in 2015

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
29. May 2016

2015 Summary of the Shark Fishing Program in Réunion Island

In 2015, a total of 47 sharks were reportedly taken as part of the targeted shark fishing operations on the western coast of Réunion Island (see table below). These are ten sharks less than in the preceding year. Our 2014 summary can be viewed here.

The catches consisted of 26 bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas), 20 tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) and one great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias).

As shown in the diagram below, October was the month with most catches (11).

A 4,20 metres long tiger shark turned out to be the largest shark recorded in last year’s season. The female specimen was caught on a drumline about 600 metres off the beach of Roches Noires in the early morning hours of April 14th. This catch took place during a post-attack procedure in a bid to capture the shark that had attacked and killed a teenage surfer two days before.

On October 22nd, the biggest bull shark was caught in the waters off St-Gilles-les-Bains. It was a female specimen which measured 3,20 metres in length.

A rare catch of a great white shark occurred in St. Paul Bay on October 15th . The male specimen, which measured 3,90 metres in length and approximately 350 kg in weight, was found hooked on a longline deployed about 300 metres from the coast and 16 metres deep.

The great white was still alive but in a very weakened condition. It’s reported that the animal was close to dying. Due to its distressed state and the potential threat posed to the safety of the nearby beaches, the decision was made to land the specimen for scientific examination.

Réunion Island – Shark Incidents in 2015 :

The following four shark incidents, including two fatalities, were officially registered last year.

In three cases, local authorities were able to determine the involved shark species ( 2x bull shark, 1x tiger shark ).

Date: 14. February 2015
Location: Mula, Étang-Salé
Victim: Female (22)
Activity: Swimming/Bathing
Injuries: FATAL
Involved shark: 3,5 m tiger shark ( Galeocerdo cuvier ), identified by medical expertise.
Post-attack catches: five sharks ( 3 x bull, 2 x tiger sharks )

Date: 12. April 2015
Location: Pointe des Aigrettes, Saint-Gilles
Victim: Male (13)
Activity: Surfing
Injuries: FATAL ( multiple injuries to limbs and abdomen )
Involved shark: 2,5 m bull shark ( Carcharhinus leucas ), identified by medical expertise.
Post-attack catches: two tiger sharks.

Date: 01. June 2015
Location: Spot de la Follette
Victim: Male (47)
Activity: Surfing
Injuries: Bitten on arm.
Involved shark: 2.5 m bull shark ( Carcharhinus leucas )
Post-attack catches: None reported.

Date: 22. July 2015
Location: Saint Leu.
Victim: Male (45)
Activity: Surfing
Injuries: Bitten on right elbow.
Involved shark: Unknown.
Post-attack catches: one bull shark.

Source: L’Etat à la Réunion.


Reunion by month 2015

reunion tab_2015a

Shark Incident Reported From Brazilian Archipelago

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
22. December 2015

In the late afternoon of Monday (Dec.21), a man suffered severe injuries in a shark attack at Fernando de Noronha. It’s a small archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, located over 350 km (220 miles) offshore from the coast of Pernambuco in Brazil.

The victim, a 33-years old tourist from Paraná, was reportedly diving in Baía do Sueste when the incident happened, which led to the amputation of his right forearm.

He was promptly brought by his relatives to the local hospital São Lucas. Then, early on Tuesday morning (Dec.22), he was airlifted to a mainland hospital in Recife. The embedded video below shows the moment of the victim’s arrival at the Hospital da Restauração. His current condition is described as stable.

Related Video, uploaded by Folha de Pernambuco on 22 December 2015:

Tourist attacked by shark at Noronha to undergo surgery

New Shark Enclosures for two Beaches in Reunion Island

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
09. December 2015

The authorities in Reunion Island have designated the beaches of Boucan Canot and Roches Noires as locations for new seabed-to-surface barriers that are supposed to protect people by preventing sharks from entering the enclosed area. The two beaches are located in the commune of Saint-Paul on the island’s west coast, where a number of severe shark incidents have occurred in recent years.

The new shark enclosures are up to 11 metres high and designed as a system of chains, floats and nets with a mesh size of 40 cm.

In Boucan Canot, the underwater fence has already been installed recently and it covers the area between the natural pool of Boucan and hotel Saint Alexis.
Although, a few additional days are still needed to completely finish the work on the barrier.
So in the meanwhile, beachgoers are urged to avoid this area and to stay out of the water.

Regarding the other location in Roches Noire, the work on this non-lethal shark mitigation measure is scheduled to commence between end of December and mid-January.

The installed barrier in Boucan Canot measures about 626 metres in length (other source: 680 m) and the second one at the beach of Roches Noires will be about 531 metres long. So, together, both shark barriers will have a total length of approx. 1.157 metres and shall secure a surface area of ca. 141.000 m² for water users.

According to local officials, these newly invented shark enclosures will guarantee the safe operation of water activities (like swimming but also surfing, kayaking, and diving) for at least 320 days a year.
They are operating effectively in sea conditions with up to 4 metres wave height.

Embedded below is a video clip ( uploaded by the YouTube-poster ‘Guillaum’ on 04. December 2015 ) that shows us the scene off Boucan Canot.

Sources: Préfecture Réunion, IPReunion.


NSW Shark Meshing Program: 180 Sharks and Rays caught in 2014-15 Season

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
01. October 2015

In the state of New South Wales (NSW), on the east coast of Australia, a fishing program was established decades ago with the purpose to protect the public from sharks.

The NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program began in the late 1930th with the deployment of mesh nets at selected beaches from Palm to Cronulla in the Sydney area.

Since then, the shark meshing program has been continuously expanded to other regions along the coast of New South Wales.
Today, 51 beaches covering over 200 km of coastline ( from Wollongong in the south, northwards to Newcastle ) are netted by contractors using specially designed meshing nets.
The annual meshing season officially begins on 1st September and ends with the removal of the nets on 30th April on the following year.

Entanglements of Elasmobranch Species in the 2014-15 Meshing Season

During the eight months of the last meshing season, the entanglements of 94 sharks and 86 rays were registered by the participating contractors. The exact species composition is shown in table 1 below.
As seen from figure 3, February was the month with the most marine life interactions reported ( total 48, 30 rays and 18 sharks ).

The mesh nets have killed the majority of the 94 sharks with only four individuals being reported as released alive ( one Smooth hammerhead, one Broadnose sevengill, one Bronze whaler and one Bull shark ).

In contrast, the mortality rate of rays is much lower with only 19 dead specimens (ca. 22%).

Almost half of the shark catches (ca. 44 %) consisted of Smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena), which is a non-target species in the NSW Shark Meshing Program.
The largest Smooth hammerhead shark measured 3,70 metres in length ( fork length, FL). The male specimen died after it became entangled in a net off Terrigal beach, located in the Central Coast region, in late October 2014.

The Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) was consistently the second-most caught shark species of the 2014-15 season with 10 individuals ( 6 males and 4 females ). All specimens of this target species were just juveniles measuring between 1,51 and 2,50 metres (FL). The catches occurred in the Central Coast Region (5 individuals), Sydney North/South/Central Regions (4 individuals) and Hunter Region (1 individual).

Over the last twenty meshing seasons from 1995-96 to 2014-15, a total of 132 Geat white sharks and 950 Hammerhead sharks (almost entirely Smooth hammerheads, Sphyrna zygaena) were reportedly caught in the NSW Shark Meshing Program ( see fig. 1 and fig. 2 ).

In the Shark Control Program of the neighbouring state of Queensland, Bull and Tiger sharks are downright dominating the catch statistics with several hundred specimens caught each year ( Catch Results 2013 ).
Whereas in the Bather Protection Program of New South Wales, only two individuals of each species were netted during the entire last meshing season.

The two Tiger sharks ( Galeocerdo cuvier ) were killed in mesh nets off Garie beach, Sydney South region, on the same day in early January 2015. The female specimens measured 2,10 and 2,90 metres in length ( fork-length ).

Regarding the two catches of Bull sharks ( Carcharhinus leucas ), both entanglements occurred in mesh nets off two Sydney beaches in February 2015. A 2,30 metres long male specimen died in a mesh net at Bronte beach, while the second bull shark ( 2 metres, male ) was released alive after it became caught at Manly beach.

But the largest whaler shark (Carcharhinus species) of the 2014-15 season was a female Dusky shark ( Carcharhinus obscurus ) with a fork-length of 3,50 metres. The catch occurred in the waters near Cronulla, southern Sydney, in March 2015.

Interactions with marine mammals and reptiles comprised the following 9 entanglements: three common dolphins (all deceased), four green turtles (three deceased), one dead hawksbill turtle and one released turtle of unidentified species.

Source: Government of New South Wales (DPI)

Tables and Figures

nsw mesh species shark 2015totgw fig 1hammer fig 2months fig 3