Now deserted, Château-Royal beach in Nouméa was until recently one of the most popular bathing spots in the capital of New Caledonia. But everything changed on Sunday January 29, when a swimmer was violently attacked by a shark, seriously injuring her hands and legs. The scene, in the middle of dozens of bathers, had already shocked the Caledonians.
Three weeks later, in exactly the same place and once again right in the middle of the Sunday crowd, an Australian tourist is grabbed by a large shark. The deadly attack, captured by smartphones, is incredibly violent and has a lasting impact on public opinion.
Since then, the beaches of the town have been closed, swimming and water activities are prohibited, and a campaign to kill bulldog and tiger sharks, species involved in the vast majority of attacks on humans, has been launched. Eighteen animals were caught, one of which contained human remains.
The mayor of Noumea, Sonia Lagarde, believes “have no other solution. There is no specialist who is able to tell us why today there is this aggressiveness on the part of sharks, so I am helpless and I am quite alone in the face of this crisis. In Reunion, they have not had an attack for four years, because they have intensified the samples “. Eventually, the municipality intends to install anti-shark nets on two stretches of beach, until then, the slaughter campaigns will be “systematized and intensified”. “Right now, I have reports of sharks coming in every day. I do not have a choice “deplores the aedile.
A hundred beasts already killed
This is not the first time authorities have chosen to cull sharks after an attack. In total since 2019, nearly 100 animals have been captured and killed. Contrary to the movement carried by environmental protection associations. The French committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) officially took a stand in 2022 against this “ineffective measure, likely to create a cascade of other ecological problems, while giving the public an impression of false security”.
Locally, the Together for the Planet association looks on the other side of the Coral Sea: neighboring Australia imposes on pleasure boats the obligation to treat their waste water to avoid any food stimulus. And significant means of surveillance, in particular by drones, are deployed in risk areas. “There are many projects to undertake before killing these animals, at the risk of disrupting the ecosystem, starting with studying them to understand what is going on”, believes its president, Martine Cornaille.
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