Jul 19, 2013 10:08 AM EDT
Australian Research Firm Develop Invisible Wetsuits to Evade Shark Attacks
Get ready to swim with sharks!
The University of Western Australia's (UWA) Oceans Institute along with entrepreneurs, Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson from Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS), a research firm, have created the world's first anti-shark wetsuit to protect divers and surfers from shark attacks. The two shark-repelling wetsuits were created based on the recent discoveries about the predators' vision.
"It's based on new breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for predatory sharks," Anderson said."We've been able to interpret that science and convert that into, basically, materials that create some confusion for sharks' visual systems."
According to the recent research, toothy predators are color-blind and perceive light in a different way. Anderson said that the blue-and-white 'Elude' collection is designed to make divers and snorkelers invisible in the water column.
Other researches also state that the deadly predators hold back from food with black and white banding as they are often thought as an 'unpalatable food item.' According to UWA researcher Shaun Collin, the second type of wetsuit 'Diverter', is largely designed for surfers. It features a bold striped pattern, signalling a danger sign in nature.
"Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals -- prey that provides a signal that somehow say 'Don't eat me' -- and that has been manifest in a striped pattern," said Collin.
Troubled by the recent shark attacks that claimed five lives in the recent past, the entrepreneurs took up the project and took two years to complete it. It was funded by the Western Australia government.
According to the International Shark Attack File, supervised by the Florida Museum of Natural History, there were 80 confirmed malicious shark attacks in 2012 worldwide followed by 78 in 2011 and 82 in 2010.
Experts said that the attacks have increased because of population growth and popularity of water sports.
Before releasing the wetsuits for public, the team tested the designs successfully using dummies, exposing them to tiger sharks at Australia's west coast. During the test, the team noticed sharks swimming past dummies wearing the wetsuits, but attacked those in traditional black wetsuits.
The research was mainly focused on "your larger predatory sharks -- white pointers, tiger sharks, bull sharks, they're the main ones really internationally that cause harm to humans", Anderson said.
Both the entrepreneurs hope that the wetsuits will help reduce the number of unprovoked shark attacks.
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