Researchers are taking a bite out of shark attacks with the release of two revolutionary wetsuits that aim to discourage sharks from snacking on surfers. After an extensive 2 year study examining how sharks see and hunt underwater, scientists at the University of Western Australia and designers from Shark Mitigation Systems (SAMS) developed the Elude suit and The Diverter Suit.
The Elude suit embodies contrasting colors, shapes and dimensions to render a surfer invisible underwater. Fish are color blind, so the color blue was the perfect camouflage to fade surfers away from predatory fishies.
The Diverter does the opposite of its invisible buddy. It uses flashy bold stripes to get a sharks attention. In the animal kingdom, stripes warn predators to stay away: “I’m poisonous, eat me and good luck.” Contrary to belief, Sharks actually have spiffy vision, and scientists are convinced that when they see stripes, they don’t stick around.
But why all the sudden fuss for shark protection? Western Australia is home to some of the world’s most tasty waves, as well as the biggest sharks — the big toothy white kind. After five fatal attacks occurred in the last year, the state now has the reputation of shark attack capital of the world. And, Australia isn’t the only country experiencing a bit more bites than usual. According to a University of Florida study, 2012 saw shark attacks reach decade high levels in the U.S., though deaths were rare. The rise in attacks spurred a fresh look into prevention — hence, the birth of the futuristic wetsuit. And before you go on shark strike, please keep in mind that shark attacks may be on the rise, but those levels will never come close to the levels of shark-slaughter by humans. In fact, the decimation of great white sharks due to overfishing and entanglement in nets has earned them a spot on the endangered species list.
So kids, what did we learn from today? “fish are friends.” In this case, sharks too and damn, that invisible wetsuit does look sexy if I do say so myself.