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Experts recommend nets after Seychelles shark attacks
by Staff Writers
Victoria (AFP) Sept 1, 2011

Authorities in the Seychelles will erect special anti-shark sea nets around a popular beach where two tourists were killed in separate attacks last month, officials said Thursday.

South African experts from the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board -- hired by the Seychellois government to investigate the attacks -- said their recommendations to introduce nets had been accepted.

A swimming ban imposed after the attacks will continue "until such time as small-mesh exclusion nets were introduced at the attack site and adjacent beaches", Geremy Cliff, head of research at the centre, told AFP.

"It was evident the minister wants to ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to prevent further shark attacks," Cliff added, who normally works to protect swimmers in South Africa from attacks.

British honeymooner Ian Redmond was killed last month while in the sea off Anse Lazio beach -- a famous beauty spot on the archipelago's Praslin island -- while his newly-wed wife watched on helplessly.

The attack happened in the same area where a shark attacked and killed 36-year-old French tourist Nicolas Francois Xavier Virolle earlier in August.

"From close examination of photographs of the injuries, it appeared that large tiger sharks in the region of four metres (13 feet) were responsible for both attacks," Cliff also said in a report.

"It is impossible to confirm that the same shark was responsible, but it cannot be excluded."

A shark tooth fragment found in a victim will be analysed in the hope of confirming the exact species, he added.

The Seychellois home affairs ministry said in a statement last week it would work with the South African experts to "address the local shark problem".

Fishermen on the Indian Ocean archipelago caught some 40 sharks since the attack on government orders, although Cliff said most were from species "none of which pose a major threat" to humans.

However, a 3.6 metre (11 foot) long tiger shark was caught, but there was no proof it was the killer animal.

"The stomach contents of the tiger shark were examined but no human remains or wedding ring -- the second victim lost his left arm, with a wedding ring on the third finger -- were found," the report read.

Shark attacks are rare in Seychelles, with the last reported fatal attack before the recent killings in 1963, according to the government.

"There was no obvious explanation for the attacks, both of which were in the mid-late afternoon," it added.

"In general, attacks in the late afternoon are not unusual, as this is when sharks, which are generally most active at night, tend to start moving inshore to hunt for food."

The 115-island archipelago is a popular top-end tourist destination, with some villa accommodation costing as much as 10,000 euros ($14,000) per night.

Britain's Prince William and his bride Catherine celebrated their honeymoon in the archipelago in May.

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