Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shark attack – take two

Shark attack – take two
(Forgive the un-intended pun...)

1st of August, anse Lazio beach, Praslin – the second largest island of Seychelles. While many people where enjoying the tropical waters of a picturesque little bay, an ageless predator glided through the turquois waters, unseen. As in the movie jaws, people where oblivious of the imminent danger, cavorting just like they have done for decades before, playing, swimming, snorkelling, floating, sunbathing – just another day in paradise.

No one will really know what it was that attracted the large predator to this part of the sea: holiday makers frolicking on the surface, luxury yachts throwing foodstuff over board, fisherman chucking fish guts into the water, a stroke of fate, God’s will or just plain bad luck but for a 36 year old male French tourist it was to be his last swim in paradise. A scream; a large fin; a shout for help; a waving hand; blood – all the ingredients one would expect for such an event.
This was unheard off in Seychelles and with no medical facilities to handle such an event the man did not stand a chance. In fact, even if there were it would not have helped either. It was two local fishermen who raced in with their boat and hauled the mauled Frenchman on board.

On the 17th August, anse Lazio beach, Praslin, a 30 year old Brit was lazily snorkelling some 50 yards off shore. Once again there were many other bathers in the water – all enjoying paradise. His wife was sitting on the beach watching. Once again the leviathan was raised from the deep by reasons unknown, to strike at its victim. Once again a boat hauled him aboard before racing onto the beach. Once again it was too late, however this time around the Brit managed a final eye contact with his wife, a slight consolation perhaps from a colossal honeymoon tragedy.

Like in the movie Jaws, the media has latched onto the name that strike fear into all – the great white. Though it has been mentioned and not singled out, once again this shark has taken the brunt of the blame. I guess it is a name that sells. But the fact of the matter is that shark experts are not certain which shark it is. Three possible culprits have been named. The Great White, the Tiger and the Bull shark – all three notorious man-eaters. One tooth fragment has been found, unfortunately it is damaged and immediate identification was not possible. Given the high likely hood of Bull sharks and Tigers frequenting these waters they are the most likely candidates. Personally, the Tiger gets my vote.

Writing about these events is no easy matter and I have realised I am not much of a reporter to be honest. Reporters need to be callous. To go out and dig for the story from the tragic loss of others would not constitute a way of life to me. I doubt I would do it even if I could. Driving home today and watching all the tourists playing in the shallow waters of Beau Vallon bay during a spectacular sunset, so happy yet so oblivious, I could not help experience a bitter taste in my mouth. Life and death just do not go together…

The weather has been particularly bad for flying. The rain has played havoc with our flight plans. Yesterday the idea was to get the interns some experience but with a spectacular line convergence the clouds produced rain and turbulence right on the spot where we needed to go. Ironically it was clear to the South-west and the North-east.

Today dawned gloomy and wet. The wind was funnelling around the airport corner at over 25knots gusting to over 30knots. Once again we are grounded...

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