A policeman stands next to the body of a bodyboarder killed by a shark off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, on February 21, 2017A policeman stands next to the body of a bodyboarder killed by a shark off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, on February 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/Richard Bouhet)
Paris (AFP) - One of the greatest surfers of all time, Kelly Slater, has sparked controversy by calling for a shark cull around the Indian Ocean island of Reunion after a bodyboarder was killed there.
"Honestly, I won't be popular for saying this but there needs to be a serious cull on Reunion and it should happen every day," the 11-time American world champion said in a comment posted on the Instagram account of French surfer Jeremy Flores.
Slater said the latest death showed there was "a clear imbalance happening in the ocean there".
"The French govt needs to figure this out ASAP. 20 attacks since 2011!?," he added in the post on Wednesday.
Slater has been an outspoken defender of maritime life so his comment provoked strong reactions from some Instagram users, including Flores himself.
"The problem here is the bull sharks, they kill everything including a lot of species of protected sharks," Flores said, adding: "One person after another is dying and some people think that is normal, but it really isn't."
The 26-year-old man bodyboarding off Reunion was killed by a shark on Tuesday.
Eight of the 20 attacks since 2011 have been fatal, despite efforts by local authorities to install nets and warn locals and tourists about the dangers.
The man, a former shark spotter from the island once employed by the local surfing association, was pronounced dead after the shark bit through a major artery in his leg, off the eastern coast near Saint-Andre.
Surfing competitions returned to Reunion only in February 2016 after a five-year absence triggered by a shark attack on local surf champion Eric Dargent.