Scientists from the University of Western Australia have devised a wetsuit to counter shark attack.
The research was spearheaded by Associate Professor Nathan Hart and Winthrop Professor Shaun Collin, from UWA’s Oceans Institute and School of Animal Biology.
Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) has created two suits that confuse the shark into believing humans in the water aren’t worth their time.
The first suit, the “Diverter”, is designed to be used primarily by surfers. Unlike traditional black wetsuits, the Diverter’s one big modification is a bold black and white banding pattern.
According to researchers at the University of Western Australia (“UWA”), patterns like the one printed on the Diverter suit confuse sharks into believing that the wearer is actually a really gnarly tasting morsel. “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 Shaun Collin.
The “Elude”, SAMS’ second suit, acts more like a traditional camouflage, and plays with the sharks perception of light and color. Once in the suit snorkelers are hidden from sharks by blending in the water column.
Over the past two years SAMS and the UWA have been testing their new suit technology off the coast of Western Australia using chummed-up dummies outfitted with patterned materials to both attract and dissuade tiger sharks from taking the bait. Because of the success of these tests, the group will now move their research to South Africa, another hotspot for great white activity, in hope of proving the universality of their designs.