Anti-Shark Wetsuits

I was surfing on the internet and found an article which I really had to laugh about. At first I thought it was an hoax, but after some research on the web I had to adjust my thoughts. I even found a TedX talk about this topic and the organisation behind it, Shark Attack Mitigation Systems of SAMS for short. Apparently this is 'old news' as it was communicated back in 2013. Well I missed that news article! If you missed it also, keep on reading. I've included the video of the TedX talk. Very interesting!

The Idea
In 2013 SAMS released shark deterrent design technology that is applied to wetsuits to reduce the chance of a shark attack. The idea behind it is that during the hunt the shark relies on several sensory systems, 'sight' being one of the more important ones in the final stage of an attack. By disrupting a shark's visual perception, an attack can either be diverted altogether or at least delayed to allow time to exit the water. SAMS collaborated with the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia to find this practical solution for shark protection.

Would it work?!
The idea sounds great, still I'm sceptic if the idea will work in practice. As is mentioned before a  shark hunts with more sensory systems then just sight alone. Luckily I know a marine biologist living in the Philippines and I asked his opinion.

"In the case of humans we can only use mimicry and that is what those wetsuit are built for. Now we must understand that because we human rely mostly on our vision to assess and decide upon a situation, other predators may use other senses that are but foreign to us. Therefore, although the idea of a visual deterrent is an appealing factor to consider, we must understand that predators also rely on other sensory systems during the hunt.

The banded pattern suit reminds me of the pattern of the L. colubrina, and this snake is definitely avoided by all other marine animals here in South East Asia, so the overall idea is definitely appealing but might need a few more tricks to become truly fool proof.

The cryptic wetsuit is very interesting; it actually imitates the light refraction that one may observe at around 3m of depth under sunny condition. Would it actually decrease the accuracy of the visibility of others? Yes. Such wetsuit is not a break-through, those were already developed in the 80’s for free divers engaged in spear fishing. Would they work? Yes in essence or at least visually speaking they would.

However and to conclude, both of these appealing methods rely solely on the spectrum variation as perceived by the predators. This approach is somehow flawed as it concentrate solely on one of the many senses sharks rely on." - +Cyril Brossard

The article I read isn't a hoax and the theory behind the wetsuits is sound, albeit not complete. Still, you want every advantage you can get in situations like this. You never know what may save your life!

Despite being an old article and even an older idea, I still found it interesting to read. The suits wouldn't work for scuba divers, but it may be interesting for snorklers and free divers.

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