On Sunday, Elio Canestri was bodyboarding with seven others in an off-limits section of ocean near Reunion Island when he was attacked by a shark. According to the Association of Foreign Press, the 13-year-old’s limbs were torn off and his stomach was ripped open as the shark dragged him out to sea. A rescue craft retrieved Canestri, but the boy died of his injuries on the beach.
The episode marks the island’s 16th shark attack in the past four years, seven of which were fatal. In February, a young woman died of a shark bite to her leg. Another man was attacked in October; he survived but lost his right leg.
World Surf League pro Jeremy Flores, a former Billabong Pipeline Masters champion, was born on Reunion and offered his condolences via Instagram, saying, “Elio was one of our best up and coming surfers. Words can’t describe how sad and angry I am.” Thousands gathered on the beach on Sunday to pay their respects and mourn, according to the Daily Mail.
It’s unclear what is causing the attacks at Reunion. Some locals say the 25-mile marine reserve along the coast, which was established in 2007 and either bans or severely restricts fishing, has contributed to the increased attacks. “This reserve has become a pantry for sharks,” one surfer told the Courier Mail in 2013.