By his dad's account, Elio Canestri was a "very careful" boy "who always listened to his parents." This description underscores the devastation over the 13-year-old surfer's death over the weekend in a shark attack off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. Even more devastating: the note he left behind before he headed to the beach. "Don't worry, Mom," Elio wrote, per NBC News. "I'm going surfing. If there's no security, I won't surf." The teen was referring to "spotters" posted to keep an eye out for sharks—16 attacks and seven deaths in four years have resulted in a ban on being in the water without the watchers. "Titi (Elio's nickname) was devoured by his passion," his father tells the French broadcaster RTL. "Fate decided one day to take him away and he is gone."
The New Daily calls Reunion, located about 125 miles east of Madagascar, the "sharkiest paradise on the planet," claiming the island has lost millions of tourism dollars due to the recent slew of shark attacks. But while locals are mourning Elio, including with a Facebook page and a YouTube tribute, they also won't deny the allure of continuing to surf in Reunion's waters. "How could one forbid a young boy of 13 from pursuing his passion when one lives on an island surrounded by the ocean and these magnificent waves?" the head of the French Surfing Association says, per RTL. "Surfing is part of the DNA of Reunion [and] is an uncontrollable passion. You cannot ban it." (Researchers say we can expect even more shark attacks in the future.)