Everyone was telling me be careful in Reunion Island if I am filming in the water, because there are many many sharks. Very sadly 1 week before I arrived the local Bodyboard and Surfing Community lost a great friend to a shark attack.
This made myself all the competitors and event organisers even more nervous.
I wanted to go find out why there are so many sharks and why are there so many attacks.
When i got there I was trying to find someone to take me diving with sharks so I could film them and have an amazing experience I once had had before in the Bahamas. It truly is amazing being down there on the bottom on the shark's level. You look at sharks so differently once you have experienced that.
Most the time I am shooting on the surface and the whole thought of not knowing what is underneath you can freak you out sometimes but once you see them on the bottom it changes you.
I didn't find someone to take me diving as the people I asked said it wasn't a good idea, and I also found out the the whole shark thing is a very big issue on Reunion Island.
Amaury Lavernhe, current Bodyboard World Champion has been trying to get the local government to start studying the local shark population for years, as he and every other bodyboarder/surfer/fisherman have noticed the increase in numbers of sharks around Reunion Island.
"People now only swim and enjoy the ocean in about a 5km stretch of coast on the whole island!"
|Amaury Lavernhe's perfect 10|
Amaury and the local population blame the increase in sharks to the many areas of coast that have been made a natural reserve where you cannot fish, and the use of fish farming just off popular swimming beaches and bays.
It makes sense, more fish = more food.
However why have the sharks come in from further out to sea?
What is wrong with the fish/food population out to sea?
Who is fishing those waters? and how?
The people of Reunion Island really need a shark expert from places like Australia or South Africa to go there and start studying the local shark population, see where they are and why.
Then they can work together to develop a way to prevent future attacks.
There must be a way where man and sharks can co exist in Reunion Island and worldwide.
However someone needs to investigate what is happening off the coast of Reunion Island, how is it being fished and by who? Im sure that will help understand why the sharks have flocked to Reunion Island and do what they do best.... survive.
I shot 3 full days in the water 6-8 hours a day. My first day i cut myself on the reef and was bleeding most the day out there! I had to fight of the fear numerous times but having two jet skis and a dive boat patrolling the waters made me feel a bit better, until the next wave came and I would forget about the sharks.
The Nissan Reunion Bodyboard Pro was a fantastic event. It has been many many years since there had been an international Bodyboard event there.
It was windy to start with but the Final Day had perfect conditions and we all got to see the how good the wave "Les Archers" is for bodyboarding.
The standout of the event was Alex Uranga. Just days before the event started he dislocated his collar bone, but as he already had his ticket he thought he will go anyway and try and do what he can. Alex had to first make the top 8 in the trials before making it into the main event.
Alex won the trials! With the help of his brother and a lot of pain killers he surfed well and took out the trials and secured his spot in the top 8 GQS riders which will enter in the top 24 for next years tour.
Then came round the main event, and the winds were still blowing but the ridding was a great technical show and poor Alex ended up hitting his face on the reef, which left him looking like a "monster" as Alex said, but he didn't care it made him want to win it more.
And win it he did. It was a phenomenal effort, in fact I still can't understand how one can go through so much pain and still surf better than the top 24 and win. Amazing. Congratulations Alex your a machine.
Thank you Reunion Island for a great comp experience and insight into the need for both Humans and Sharks to live together