Australian firm launches 'anti-shark' wetsuits

Jul 18, 2013
A surfer and diver wear Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) wetsuits on July 18, 2013. An Australian research firm has launched what is being touted as the world's first anti-shark wetsuit, using new discoveries about the predators' eyesight to stave off or evade an attack.

An Australian research firm Thursday launched what is being touted as the world's first anti-shark wetsuit, using new discoveries about the predators' eyesight to stave off or evade an attack.

Working in conjunction with the University of Western Australia's (UWA) Oceans Institute, entrepreneurs Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson have developed two lines of wetsuit designed to protect divers and surfers from .

"It's based on new breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for predatory sharks," Anderson told AFP.

"We've been able to interpret that science and convert that into, basically, materials that create some confusion for sharks' visual systems."

The blue-and-white "Elude" range, designed for divers and snorkellers, uses research about sharks' perceptions of light and colour blindness to essentially "hide you in the water column", Anderson said.

The "Diverter"—mainly for surfers—is based on what sharks perceive as danger signs in nature, with a bold black and white banding patten to imitate an "unpalatable food item", according to UWA researcher Shaun Collin.

"Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals—prey that provide a signal that somehow says `Don't eat me'—and that has been manifest in a striped pattern," said Collin.

It is the culmination of a two-year research project funded by the Western Australia government following an unprecedented spate of in the state which claimed five lives in the year to July 2012.

Sharks are common in Australian waters but deadly attacks have previously been rare, with only one of the average 15 incidents a year typically proving fatal.

Experts say the average number of attacks in the country has increased in line with population growth and the popularity of water sports.

Anderson and Jolly's research firm, Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS), licensed their technology to wetsuit maker Radiator, which opened pre-orders for the first suits online Thursday from Aus$429 (US$392).

Stickers using the Diverter striped pattern are also available for the underside of surfboards and other watercraft.

Testing of the designs using dummies and tiger sharks off Australia's west coast has been successful, with the marine predators gliding past SAMS patterns but savaging traditional black wetsuits.

Further testing will be done off southern Australia and South Africa this Southern Hemisphere summer (December-February).

Anderson said there was "substantial" demand across the world for technologies to repel sharks, and SAMS would soon unveil a partnership with a major global technical swimwear brand.

"Everyone's looking for a solution, everyone's nervous about going in the water around the world now. It's not just Australia, we had a fatality in the Reunion Islands this week ," he said.

Of the wetsuits, he added: "It's safe, it's natural and gives the animals no harm at all."

Explore further: How to find a submarine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Shark brains could hold key to attacks: study

Oct 30, 2012

Shark brains have been found to share several features with those of humans, a discovery which Australian researchers believe could be crucial to developing "repellents" for the killer great white species.

Australia shark attacks spark kill orders

Sep 27, 2012

Sharks that stray too close to beaches on Australia's west coast will be caught and killed under a new government plan in response to an unprecedented spate of fatalities.

Many sharks colour blind, research confirms

Sep 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—New research which could help to deter and conserve sharks has confirmed that many of the ocean predators are probably completely colour blind. 

Sharks dive deep on moonlit nights

Apr 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —The Moon, water temperature and even time of day affect the diving behaviour of sharks, according to new research at The University of Western Australia.

2012 US shark attacks highest since 2000

Feb 11, 2013

Shark attacks in the U.S. reached a decade high in 2012, while worldwide fatalities remained average, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File report released today.

Recommended for you

How to find a submarine

3 hours ago

Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October, The Bedford Incident, We Dive At Dawn: films based on submariners' experience reflect the tense and unusual nature of undersea warfare – where it is often not how well ...

Government ups air bag warning to 7.8M vehicles (Update)

Oct 22, 2014

The U.S. government is now urging owners of nearly 8 million cars and trucks to have the air bags repaired because of potential danger to drivers and passengers. But the effort is being complicated by confusing ...

HP supercomputer at NREL garners top honor

Oct 21, 2014

A supercomputer created by Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that uses warm water to cool its servers, and then re-uses that water to heat its building, has been ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2013
The black and white pattern was suggested about 30 years ago based on observations that sharks never attack/eat ramora fish. Why did it take so long?