Reunion's "Scientific" Cull A Ruse

Many are questioning the announcement by French authorities on the holiday island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean recently to cull some 90 sharks for the purpose of scientific discovery.

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  1. As reported in the Huffington Post, the Island's prefect Jean-Luc Marx  announced the cull of 90 sharks as an updated target to scientific research that began last year attempting to discover the presence of dinoflagellates in specific species found in the waters off Reunion.

  2. "The original plan was to kill 20, and then 24, to check them for the presence of dinoflagellates, which can lead to ciguatera, a gastrointestinal and sometimes neurological illness caused by consuming certain contaminated fish." 

    The disease is known to be fatal in Humans, as the Huffing Post reported, and one outbreak on the neighboring island of Madagascar claimed the lives of 98 over a decade ago.  

    However the cull announced by French authorities will only target two species of shark, Bull and Tiger, and the areas where Reunion's spate of deadly attacks have occurred in recent years.

    George Burgess, shark research director at Florida Natural History Museum, believes that the shark cull is less to do with science and more an effort to respond to the growing shark problem. Burgess denounced the cull as "an archaic, knee-jerk reaction that seems more borne of vengeance than of science.” 
  3. In another interview with American website Surfline, Burgess further questioned the validity of the scientific label given to the cull. 
  4. "That suggests pretty strongly that they're either grasping at straws or they're simply not getting enough scientific information to deal with this in an enlightened manner." 

    Burgess believes that the French authorities do not understand the ecology of the Island, believing that local fish farming could be one factor attracting sharks to the Island. The other being a lot simpler. 

    "So if you put more people in the waters, especially in places where the sharks are known to be more common -- and the visitors don't bother to ask the locals where's the risky place and where's the safe place -- you're going to have more accidents."
  5. This is not the first time that French authorities have attempted to cull the Reunion Island shark population. As reported last year by Radio France Internationale, a proposed cull was dismissed by authorities on mainland French because "species [bull sharks] are protected and so killing them would be breaking French law."
  6. However it appears that authorities will be excused from any breach of law under their "scientific" program if allowed to continue. 
  7. The announcement of the increased cull  came on the back of the most recent fatal shark attack on Reunion in which a 15 year old girl was bitten in half just meters from shore. 
  8. Shark Attack: Teenage Girl Killed Off Reunion
  9. The attack on the young girl is the latest in a series of dramatic attacks since 2011, and French authorities have responded hard due to local concerns and the possible threat to tourism. Earlier this year a man holidaying with his wife was eaten in half when attacked by a shark while surfing. Along with the cull, authorities have also announced a seasonal ban on surfing, a sport in which the majority of attacks thus far have occurred.
  10. For many, the proximity of the announcement of the increased cull to the most recent attack exposes the flawed "scientific" guise which authorities have been labeling the cull with.
  11. From shark friend Danielle Williams: "I just read this ignorant article that aims to ban surfing off the coast of Reunion Island as well as kill 90 sharks on top of the two dozen already slain over the past year as part of a suspiciously disguised scientific research program. The French Government needs to be called out for their plans so steeped in stupidity."
  12. So too, users of Twitter have taken to their accounts to voice their universal condemnation for the proposed cull. 
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