New Caledonia's top travel destination status harmed as it becomes hot spot for shark attacks
CHATEAU ROYAL BEACH, NEW CALEDONIA: Every year, thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to New Caledonia to enjoy its beautiful offerings of five-star resorts, breathtaking beaches, and tropical environment. But, the nation's luxury image has recently taken a hit due to shark attacks which have undermined its position as a top tourism destination.
Apparently, many tourists and residents suffering severe injuries or dying in the water have cemented the country's reputation as a shark attack hotspot, news.com.au reported. According to an Australian couple Lance and Jane Rae, this horrific fact should be conveyed to potential guests before they decide to go on vacation.
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'Most awful screams'
Lance and Jane Rae were the first to notice when local Bridgette Do, a 49-year-old teacher, lost her leg in a shark attack on January 29 in Noumea, the nation's capital. “It was something like you would never want to hear in your life,” Rae said of the "most awful screams” he heard. Rae immediately got close to the spot as he heard screams and realized that Do was severely injured. “It was only when I looked down that I realized she had been attacked. She had extensive wounds.”
'It kept coming in and I just couldn’t believe how big it was'
As a man paddled her to the shore “a massive” shark swam in circles around them, following the heavy trail of blood. “The shark was still circling, and I just thought ‘I’ve got to get them out,’” said Rae, who was along with top Australian surgeon Professor Gary Hoffman in the water. Terrified Rae asked the police who had arrived on the spot to shoot the shark, but they neither received any assistance nor was the Shark shot, he told the outlet. “I could see the shark was coming in, and it was really big, so I said to one of the police ‘shoot the shark’, but he wouldn’t,” he said. “I said, ‘give me your gun and I’ll do it’ … it kept coming in and I just couldn’t believe how big it was, but he wouldn’t shoot it," he further added.
The horrific incident served as a premonition of the death of Australian visitor Chris Davis, 59, a married father-of-three, who was attacked by a shark on Sunday, 19 February, just a few meters away from where Do was attacked. Two people rescued the man on a jet-ski and CPR was performed, but he didn’t survive his injuries as per CNN. Nearby beaches were closed after the attack on a 49-year-old woman and only reopened last Thursday, reported the media outlet.
Following a shark attack that occurred on Sunday, February 19, at the Château Royal beach, situated in the city of Nouméa is banned from swimming and water activities within a 300-meter coastal strip from Nouméa, starting from February 19, 2023, until further notice.
New Caledonia ranks 13th in the number of shark attacks
As per the previous study, by HAL-IRD, from 1958 to 2020, around 67 cases of shark attacks including 13 fatal ones have been recorded in New Caledonia, affecting mainly spearfishermen (58.5%), swimmers (18.5%) and practitioners of water sports (14%). New Caledonia was ranked 13th in the number of shark attacks.
“People value tourism and shark attacks damage the tourism, but people need to know," Rae said. “Anybody that thinks ‘save the sharks’, perhaps they should come and have a look and see how a beautiful lady was torn to shreds,” he said, before adding: “that's why I wanted to shoot the shark”. While recognizing the serious issue, he further added, “I was absolutely shocked the man was killed in exactly the same place as where the lady was attacked. Clearly there is a shark problem there, as there is in Australia.”