Featured Image Credit: Lwp Kommunikáció via Flickr
By Jessica Kittel
Sharks are some of the most tragically misunderstood creatures on this earth. While they do, in fact, occasionally attack humans, those attacks are few and far between. An even smaller statistic is the number of those attacks that actually result in death. In reality, humans are easily more harmful and deadly to the world’s shark populations than sharks are to human populations.
However, even pro-shark enthusiasts would surely be utterly terrified if they saw a great white shark heading towards them at high speed, doing their ambush predation thing.
While they can do some serious damage to a human appendage, it’s the fear that it could happen that really messes with human-shark relations. A few years ago, the Australian shark culling situation showed just how far humans have not come from their fear of Jaws.
So what’s to be done?
Most people can’t enter the ocean water without at least the slightest bit of wariness of sharks. I mean, it makes sense, we are in their domain, and they are a-heck-of-a-lot stronger and more effective underwater than we land-dwellers are. But it’s this conscious (or unconscious) fear of them that makes the average person much less sympathetic to the fact that millions upon millions of these awesome creatures are being slaughtered every year so people can have their (very non-nutritious) sharkfin soup.
Luckily there is technology to help fight your fear of being attacked in various forms of shark deterrents and repellents. There are five main types of shark deterrents, according to surfertoday.com. These include: magnetic repellents, electric repellents, sound repellents, semiochemical repellents, and visual repellents. All of these strategies have on thing in common, they interfere or effect one of the senses sharks use to detect prey. Whether it’s visual, olfactory, acoustic, or electromagnetic field altering, they all claim to reduce the risk of a shark attack.
See: SharkBanz, Modom Shark leash, and Shark Shocker
Magnetic fields are thought to over stimulate the special sensory organs, the ampullae of Lorenzini, which are found in the shark’s snout. These ampullae of Lorenzini detect small currents projected by their prey (such as a heartbeat).
A similar tactic is taken by electrical shark repellent, which emit a small electrical current into to water to interfere with the ampullae of Lorenzini.
See: Shark Shield, NoShark, and Surf Safe
According to choice.com.au, sound repellents are based on the idea that killer whales are known to eat sharks therefore sharks must be afraid of orca vocalizations. This one is on the sketchier side considering that number one, different orca social groups have different sounds so a shark might not even realize it’s a killer whale noise unless it’s from the local pod. There’s also the potential for the shark to figure out that it is not, in fact, actually an orca.
See: Shark Attack Mitigation Systems
Visual repellents are mostly in the form of wetsuits. Black wetsuits make you look like a seal and “yum yum yellow” wetsuits and surfboards might inspire curiosity in a shark. Sharks only see in shades of grey so white, yellow, and silvery colored objects are more likely to be of interest to a shark than blue and green things. Shark deterring wetsuits include camouflage blue and green wetsuits and black and white striped wetsuits that make you look like a poisonous sea snake.
Turns out there are many options to try to deter shark. While none of them are proven to be 100 percent effective, as far as I’m concerned, as long as they give me some piece of mind whenever I’m in the ocean, they’re worth every penny!