Sharko trawls near "Sarko" on French Riviera: report

Mon Aug 1, 2011 2:11pm EDT
 
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NICE, France (Reuters) - A professional diver working in the harbor at the French Riviera port of Saint-Tropez saw a large shark swim by him three times over the weekend, local newspaper Var-Matin reported on Monday.

Nicolas Faucon told the newspaper he was underwater untangling the anchor chains of boats moored at Saint-Tropez, a glitzy Mediterranean holiday spot, when a two-meter-long (6 foot) shark glided past him at arm's length.

"A shark passed by 50 cm (20 inches) from me. I am 100 percent sure of it," Faucon told the paper, as tens of thousands of French holidaymakers descended upon Riviera beaches for the start of the annual August vacation.

"It didn't seem aggressive. It looked at me, and then changed direction," Faucon said.

Riviera holidaymakers include President Nicolas Sarkozy and his pregnant wife Carla Bruni, who arrived on Monday in Cap Negre -- an easy swim from Saint-Tropez for a shark.

Faucon made a swift exit, but said he saw the shark again when he went back underwater an hour later, and he spotted it again, further away, the following day.

Occasional shark scares have caused beaches to be briefly closed in past years on the French Mediterranean, but attacks are extremely rare.

According to an online shark attack log kept by the U.S. Shark Research Institute, the vast majority of shark attacks occur off the United States, Australia and South Africa.

(Reporting by Pierre Thebault; Writing by Catherine Bremer)