Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Wetsuits Designed To Outsmart Sharks

Published on August 14, 2013 by   ·   No Comments

Most sharks are completely harmless and, what’s more, highly essential and useful to the ocean ecosystem.  There are many things you’re more likely to die of than a shark attack, a dog bite, bee sting or lightning for starters, but this doesn’t stop many swimmers being utterly petrified of the beasts, Jaws theme tune ringing in their ears.  But help is at hand – pop on a SAMS (Shark Attack Mitigation Systems) wetsuit and hey presto, the shark won’t eat you for dinner.

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According to the International Shark Attack File (based in Florida), in 2012 there were 118 alleged shark-on-human attacks worldwide.  80 were confirmed to be valid and unprovoked.  North America accounted for more than 50% of these global incidents (42) with Australia in second place (14).  However the total number of fatalities was just seven.  This is extremely low thanks to medical advances and improved beach safety.

Given the millions of hours humans spend in the water each year, shark attacks are extremely rare, but here’s the rub – surfers and those participating in other board sports are the most likely targets, representing about 60% of worldwide cases (with swimmers only notching up 22% and divers 8%) so it might be worth donning a SAMS wetsuit for peace of mind.

Developed in Australia by Shark Mitigation Systems Pty Ltd, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and School of Animal Biology, the SAMS wetsuit range is said to render the wearer either invisible or repulsive to sharks.  Whilst the experts know that sharks use a number of senses to locate prey, vision is the crucial sense and by disrupting a shark’s visual perception, an attack can either be avoided or delayed giving the intended victim time to escape.  The suits have been tested on live animals (without live humans inside) and they work.

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The SAMS wetsuit comes in two styles.  One uses highly contrasting stripes and presents the wearer as being potentially dangerous and unpalatable.  The other uses a palette of blues and greys to mimic natural patterns in seawater making it very difficult for the shark to focus on its target.

One of the creators, Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer and kitesurfer, said, “Whilst the end product may appear at first glance to be fairly simple, the science and research behind it is extensive.  “We cannot say that our suits are a fail-safe protection against shark attack but we believe they certainly can assist without necessitating any additional equipment or cost other than what is already being used.  The initial results of our testing have been quite extraordinary and have given us the confidence to release this range of suits.  However, we envisage that testing will be an ongoing process over many years to come as well.”

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Footage shows a stunning example encounter with a large tiger shark – http://youtu.be/86FdOtw9W4U

To keep an eye on the project’s progress visit:  http://www.sharkmitigation.com/

 

 

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