11/08/2019 17:04 EST

Hand Of Missing Tourist Found In The Stomach Of A Tiger Shark

A 44-year-old Scottish man went snorkeling off an island notorious for its shark attacks. His wife identified his body through his wedding ring.

Days after a tourist vanished while snorkeling off the cost of Réunion, an island east of Madagascar, his severed hand was found inside the stomach of a shark.

The 44-year-old Scottish man went missing on Saturday, radio station Réunion La 1ère reported. His disappearance prompted search crews to begin capturing and slicing open several tiger sharks. On Wednesday, they made the grim discovery. The man’s wife was able to identify her husband from his wedding ring.

Whether he died by an attack or died at sea and was later bitten remains unclear.

The island, an overseas department of France, has been the site of 24 attacks ― 11 of them fatal ― since 2011. The last death occurred in May, when a 28-year-old man was killed while surfing in a restricted area.

Before that, attacks were relatively rare.

Local debates have centered on the government’s shark meat ban and the 2007 creation of a marine nature reserve, but an Economist analysis concluded those are largely missing the point. Experts argue the real causes of the disproportionately high number of attacks are the environmental impact of the island’s expanding population and overfishing, which leads to hungrier sharks.

RICHARD BOUHET via Getty Images
A picture taken on March 1, 2019, shows a sign banning swimming at the L'Étang-Salé beach, on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion.

In a particularly grisly attack, champion French bodyboarder Mathieu Schiller was mauled to death by two sharks moments after paddling out in the summer of 2011.

In 2013, swimming and surfing was banned on the island, and is currently only allowed in its shallow lagoons.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron said he is hoping water sports can return by 2022, but he wants to be sure the area will be safe enough.