Picture: buckeyebeth/Pixabay

London - A British tourist whose hand was found in the stomach of a tiger shark was on a luxury holiday to celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday.

Richard Turner, 44, went missing while swimming in a designated "safe" lagoon on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

Mr Turner’s hand and distinctive wedding ring were identified by his wife, Verity, after being found in one of four tiger sharks killed in the Hermitage lagoon.

The couple had been celebrating Mrs Turner’s birthday in the five-star Lux Hotel in Saint-Gilles.

Mrs Turner reported her husband missing on Saturday when he failed to return from snorkelling in the lagoon, which is supposedly safe from sharks because it is surrounded by a coral reef. However, four were found swimming there on Sunday – including the 10ft-long fish with Mr Turner’s remains in its stomach.

Police confirmed Mr Turner’s distraught wife has remained on the French overseas territory of Reunion to assist with their enquiries after the gruesome discovery on Wednesday.

Mr Turner, an administrator for the Land Registry, moved to Edinburgh from near Manchester 15 years ago. A profile made for the couple’s wedding in 2014 described him as "a very English eccentric".

It remained unclear whether he had drowned or been attacked by the shark while alive. A spokesman for the island’s search and rescue team said it might not be possible to determine a cause of death without a body, but blood and DNA tests would be carried out on the hand.

He added: "It is not clear whether he was attacked or he was already dead when he was eaten. One possibility is that he became unwell in the lagoon and was taken by the currents into deeper water."

Hotel managers this week claimed the Hermitage lagoon on the island’s west coast was safe for swimmers, alarming some guests who knew of the tragedy.

One tourist from Paris, who checked into the Hotel Lux, told the Mail: "They said it was fine for us to go swimming in the lagoon so long as we stayed on the right side of the reef.

"I challenged them because I knew what had happened but they assured me it was fine." Reunion has had 24 shark attacks since 2011, including 11 fatal ones.

In May, a 28-year-old surfer had his leg ripped off by a shark, and his body was found floating in the port of Saint-Leu. French president Emmanuel Macron visited the island last month and pledged £1.7 million to protect its residents from shark attacks.

Daily Mail