Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Shark Shocker for Safer Watersports

Published on August 22, 2016 by   ·   No Comments


Australian surfers and swimmers breathed a huge sigh of relief on 4 July when shark researchers at The University of Western Australia confirmed the effectiveness of the Shark Shield electronic shark deterrent.

Professor Shaun Collin from UWA’s Oceans Institute and the School of Animal Biology said the testing showed that the Shark ShieldTM could reduce white shark interactions.  He was quoted as saying, “The research provides quantitative evidence of the effectiveness of the Shark Shield, its electric field characteristics and its influence on the behaviour of white sharks.

The study concluded that the Shark ShieldTM produced an effective deterrent field an average of 1.3 metres from the device’s electrodes.  It was found to prevent Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) from interacting with static bait ten out of ten times on their first approach.  On subsequent approaches, the rate dropped slightly to nine out of ten times, showing signs of habituation to the Shark Shield.  However sharks still continued to be deterred from biting if an active Shark Shieldwas present, and that’s the important thing.


There are three types of Shark Shield available depending on what you are doing in the water, FREEDOM7 is for swimmers and is the Shark Shield at its simplest.  The battery is contained within an ankle cuff and from this extends a long floating antenna, which produces an electrical field.  SCUBA7 is for, you guessed it, scuba divers, and has electrodes that attach to the ankle and tanks to create the largest field possible.  Finally there is the FREEDOM+ Surf, which attaches to a surfboard.  The antennas on the FREEDOM+ are adhesive and are attached to the bottom of the board to turn your surfboard into a veritable shark-repelling machine.

Shark Shield isn’t the only game in town, there are a few others out there but none have any independent proof that they work.  Our favourite is SharkTec’s shark repellent spray (Holy Sardine, Batman!) that contains an extract of dead shark tissue in a spray can.  The can, when activated, releases a cloud of dead shark into the water that SharkTec says creates a “temporary safety zone” by reminding the shark of its dead mother.  You could almost feel sorry for it.  Let’s face it though, this is only to be used after you’ve bopped the shark on the nose, unless can is in hand at all times.

Another interesting concept is the shark deterrent wetsuit produced by Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS).  There are two types of suit available based on two differing strategies. The first is a lovely mix of blues, which is designed to camouflage the wearer, or at least break up their outline. The other is to make the swimming human look as unlike shark prey as possible by making them look like a nun on a zebra crossing.  It may work but let’s face it it’s not flattering.  Initial tests have been completed in live conditions on the SAMS technology and, although the initial trials were strongly supportive of the scientific principles, they are not 100% conclusive.


Another smart invention is the Clever Buoy, also developed by SAMS, which is a buoy equipped with a sonar system that spots shark-shaped objects in the water and relays the information back to the lifeguards on shore, perfect for busy beaches but not so great for those secret beach breaks that you might want to explore.

So if you’re thinking of swimming in Australia, be sure to head to a beach that has a Clever Buoy wearing a wetsuit that makes you look like a nun in a revolving door and trailing a Shark Shield, oh and don’t forget your shark repellent Bat spray.

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