By confusing one of a shark’s key hunting senses, this new device might help surfers avoid any gnarly bites in the future.
Let’s face it. We’ve never been the same since Jaws. Not to mention, North and South Carolina saw more shark attacks in a three-week period this summer than all of last year combined. The number of shark attacks is above average and on the rise, and places like Australia, Hawaii, and California have also been affected.
Scientists suspect that a combination of warmer waters and more people hitting the beaches are to blame for the rise in attacks, because these factors attract the water beasts to shore. Coming up with a way to fend them off has proven difficult for years since they’re wildly unpredictable animals. While punching a shark in the nose would make for a cool story to tell at parties, it’s hard to say how we would really react when confronted with those cold, beady eyes — or how effective the defense would be.
Now, a company called SurfSafe has developed a device that can reportedly scramble up a shark’s hunting senses to prevent future attacks. Sharks use a special sense to detect miniscule electrical currents produced by prey, helping the beasts hone in on their potential dinner. They use their electrosensitive organs, called ampullae of Lorenzini, in combination with their senses of smell and sight to efficiently hunt down prey.
Although sharks rarely attack humans, sometimes a human on a surfboard can resemble a seal or other natural prey. On its website, SurfSafe describes the new product, as “the device every Surfer needs to assist in reducing the risk of shark attack.” For a price of $390, the device provides surfers with a protective 3-meter barrier in every direction that works to mix up the shark’s electrosensitive abilities — not a shabby trade.
As long as you feel a pulse in the water below your board, the company says the device should be working. There’s no on and off button, either — it automatically starts working once it comes in contact with seawater. It’s compact, easy to install, and has a battery life of up to 12 hours.
At this point, all the skeptics out there are probably questioning how well the shark-repelling device will actually work. Since nobody is going to volunteer themselves to be bait for a Great White, it’s hard to test these types of devices without putting humans in direct danger. But the company and inventor, surfer Dave Smith, assure that the device has been extensively and continuously tested in a “frenzied” environment with tiger sharks, bull sharks, bronze whaler sharks, and other predatory species.
In the video below, you can even see that during a SurfSafe test, a shark appears to speed away from the surfer’s board immediately after the device is switched on.
The shark-repellent device is a huge step toward the solution to preventing future injuries and tragic deaths in shark infested waters. Contrary to popular opinion, sharks don’t have it out for us — they’re one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Hopefully this new technology can help humans and sharks reach a point of more peaceful coexistence.