Kelly Slater, has sparked controversy by calling for a shark cull around the Indian Ocean island of Reunion after the 20th shark attack since 2011 occurred earlier this week and killed a bodyboarder.
“Honestly, I won’t be popular for saying this but there needs to be a serious cull on Reunion and it should happen everyday. There is a clear imbalance happening in the ocean there. If the whole world had these rates of attack nobody would use the ocean and literally millions of people would be dying like this. The French govt needs to figure this out asap. 20 attacks since 2011!?” the 11-time surfing world champion said in a comment posted on the Instagram account of Jeremy Flores.
Slater has been an outspoken defender of maritime life so his comment provoked strong reactions from some Instagram users, including Flores himself.
“The problem here is the bull sharks, they kill everything including a lot of species of protected sharks,” Flores said, adding: “One person after another is dying and some people think that is normal, but it really isn’t.”
The 26-year-old man bodyboarding off Reunion was killed by a shark on Tuesday. The man, a former shark spotter from the island once employed by the local surfing association, was pronounced dead after the shark bit through a major artery in his leg.
In an interview with Stab about the controversial topic, Slater states “Ballina seems to be seasonal and migratory sharks, but I don’t know that for sure. Reunion has had a far greater number of attacks and a higher percentage of deaths. And it seems to have been something specifically created by human interference from what Jeremy has told me. There is some unnatural order occurring there that doesn’t happen nearby in Mauritius or Rodriguez Island. Slater continued, “I surely don’t want to be a scientific authority in any way in this debate. It’s just one man’s opinion.”