With the spate of shark attacks this summer due to increasing ocean water temperatures and a greater number of people in the water, the fear of sharks is a very real thing.
Shark detterrant devices for scuba divers, swimmers and kayakers have been on the market for several years. Now a new product by Australian company SURFSAFE embeds the device right within a surfboard.
The SURFSAFE works like other shark deterring gadgets by emitting an electronic current when submersed in water. Once it’s installed all you have to do is put the board in the water and it’s working.
The electric current activates the sharks ampullai of Lorenzini, which are special sensing organs forming a network of jelly-filled pores that sharks use to detect electrical currents in other fish. These same electroreceptors can be found in rays, reedfish and sturgeon. The only harm it can cause the user or another swimmer is if they touch the underside of the board across the two electrodes it might cause a shock.
The SURFSAFE and predecessors like it, including the Shark Shield and ESDS, have been proven in studies to deter sharks, but their complete effectiveness has been questioned. For some great white sharks, the electric currents simply slowed down their rate of attack.
On the Shark Shield web site they claim the current causes “the shark to experience muscle spasms and a high level of discomfort, which causes it to turn away from the electronic field, effectively repelling the shark and protecting the user.”
But Dr. Carl Meyer, of the University of Hawaii’s Shark Research Center, who spoke with Surfer Magazine last year was skeptical.
“There are a variety of anti-shark products out there,” he said. “Some have a theoretical base and some are just nonsense. The devices based on electromagnetism [like the Shark Shield] have some potential. But I’m hesitant to say that they’re completely effective. I still believe that there needs to be more exhaustive, independent research done before we can come to any concrete conclusion.”
Arlen Macpherson, a surfer New South Wales Australia who works with SURFSAFE said it’s all about peace of mind.
“With all the current attacks I’ve always been a little worried about sharks,” he said in the video embedded below. “This is just for peace of mind.”