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Reunion (France): Warning flags on beaches

Last modified: 2013-03-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: warning flag | hazard | shark | beach |
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Usual beach flags

[Green flag]     [Green flag]     [Green flag]

Beach condition signal flags - Images by Ivan Sache, 7 December 2005

The beach condition signal flags (description) used in Reunion are three triangular pennants, identical to those used in continental France, with the same meaning:
- Green: Swimming permitted, no hazard;
- Orange: Swimming permitted, but hazardous;
- Red: Swimming prohibited.

António Martins & Ivan Sache, 12 May 2006

Shark alarm flags

In Reunion island, some 30 attacks by sharks have been recorded since 1980, claiming 13 lives. There was a recent increase in the attacks (1 in 2010, 6 in 2001 and 3 in 2012).
Since October 2011 (Zinfos 974, 6 October 2011), shark alarms are notified by specific pennants. The establishment of the pennants followed the increase in shark attacks observed in 2011. Reunion is the only place in France such pennants are in use.

A verified shark alarm is notified by the hoisting of two flags (photo), the red pennant for "swimming prohibited" and another red pennant charged with a shark (photo).
Weather conditions favourable to the presence of sharks are notified by the hoisting of two flags, the orange pennant for "swimming hazardous but allowed and watched" and another orange pennant charged with a shark (photo).

Since these flags are not regulated by any official text - only the plain red, orange and red pennants are of mandatory use -, there seems to be some variation in their use. On some photos, the red shark flag appears hoisted with the orange plain flag (photo).

Ivan Sache, 28 October 2012