Scientists Introduce Invisible Wetsuit to Ward Off Sharks

invisiblesResearchers 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.