Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Missing Scottish tourist’s hand found in shark’s stomach

The 44-year-old man disappeared while snorkelling off Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.

The remains of a Scottish man have been found in a tiger shark in the French overseas territory of Reunion (National Geographic Channels/ T3/PA)
The remains of a Scottish man have been found in a tiger shark in the French overseas territory of Reunion (National Geographic Channels/ T3/PA)

By Tess de la Mare, PA

The hand of a Scottish tourist has been discovered in the stomach of a tiger shark caught off the coast of Reunion Island.

The 44-year-old man, who has not been identified, disappeared while snorkelling in Hermitage Lagoon on Saturday.

His remains were identified by his wife by his wedding ring.

The shark was among several caught on Monday and Tuesday in the Indian Ocean by the Centre de Securite Requin (CSR) for research purposes.

It was found just over four miles (7km) from the lagoon where the victim was last seen.

The shark was examined on Wednesday morning.

A post-mortem examination on the man has yet to take place, and it is not yet known whether he drowned and was subsequently eaten by the shark, or whether he was attacked by it.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are providing support to the family of a British man who died while snorkelling in La Reunion and are in contact with the local authorities.”

The victim was certainly swimming but it is not clear whether he was attacked or he was already dead when he was eaten

A spokesman for the local search and rescue – the Centre Regional Operationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage (Cross) – told the PA news agency that the shark had been caught as part of regular culls in the region.

“The victim was certainly swimming but it is not clear whether he was attacked or he was already dead when he was eaten.

“One possibility is that he became unwell while in the lagoon and was taken by the currents into deeper water.”

He said it might not be possible to ever to determine the cause of death without a body, but said blood tests and DNA tests would be conducted on the hand in due course.

The spokesman added that currently there is no ongoing operation to look for the man’s remains.

“If we find a body, it is usually within the first 48 hours of it going missing,” he said.

He added it would be unlikely to find a body with so many sharks in the water.

Swimming and surfing has been banned in Reunion – a French overseas territory – since the summer of 2013.

It is only permitted in the shallow waters of the island’s lagoons, although many surfers flout the rules because of its famous waves.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that he would like to see water sports reintroduced by 2022, but added that he wanted “to be sure” that it would be safe to do so.

There have been two confirmed fatal shark attacks in Reunion’s waters in 2019 so far – in January a fisherman died from his injuries after one tore off his leg, while a surfer was killed in May.

In February 2018, the government of the region announced that it was doubling its funding for swimming “safe zones” to 2 million euro (£1.7 million) a year.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph