Hand of missing Scottish tourist found in shark off coast of Réunion

Wife identifies wedding ring of man who disappeared while snorkelling at the weekend

The hand of a missing Scottish tourist has been discovered in the stomach of a tiger shark caught off the coast of Réunion, according to local media.

The 44-year-old man, who has not been named, disappeared on Saturday while snorkelling off the coast of the Indian Ocean island. His wife identified his wedding ring recovered during an autopsy of the shark, the local TV channel Réunion La 1ère reported.

The shark was one of five caught for research purposes in the Indian Ocean on Monday and Tuesday. It was found about four miles from the lagoon where the victim was last seen.

It is not known whether the man may have drowned and subsequently been eaten by the shark, or may have been 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 Réunion and are in contact with the local authorities.”

The island, a French department 600 miles east of Madagascar, is a popular surfing destination, but the threat posed by sharks led to a partial ban on surfing and swimming in the summer of 2013. Since then, such activities have only been permitted in the shallow waters of the island’s lagoons.

The main threat in the past has come from bull sharks, described by local surfers as “war machines”. Despite the risk, many surfers have flouted the ban because the island’s waves are considered some of the best in the world.

The 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 it would be safe to do so.

There have been two confirmed fatal shark attacks in Réunion’s waters in 2019 so far. A fisherman died in January after a shark bit off his leg, and a surfer was killed in May.

In February 2018 the government of the region announced it was doubling its funding for safe swimming zones to €2m (£1.7m) a year.

Réunion banned hunting sharks for food in 1999 over concerns their flesh was contaminated with ciguatera, a toxin that causes vomiting, nausea and, in rare cases, death. Locals say this has allowed bull and tiger sharks to take over the waters.

Contributor

Haroon Siddique and agency

The GuardianTramp

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