"We accomplished our goal," Schnöller said, a week later. "We are educating people about the problem, showing why they can't just throw trash in the ocean." Schnöller is also using the discovery as a way to inform local beachgoers and tourists about shark habits, which will hopefully prevent future attacks.
Buyle, in Brussels, agrees it's a useful discovery, but he also says it may have little effect on the number of shark-related incidents on Réunion. "We will never change the shark's behavior," says Buyle. The most important thing is to "respect that the ocean is a wild environment. This is the shark's home. You are just a visitor in it."
Surprisingly, the tagging discovery didn't scare people off but, instead, opened a new cottage industry. Today Réunion tour operators run snorkeling trips near the garbage dump. "The sharks have become an attraction," said Schnöller. Last January, the French government began reopening beaches to the public.
I asked Buyle if he now considers Boucan Canot a safe place to swim or surf. "I'll put it this way," he said, laughing. "Without my wetsuit, goggles, and fins, I wouldn't swim in that water if you paid me a million dollars. I'm not crazy, you know."