Sure you may look like a drowning zebra, or the lead in a modern dance performance, but scientists from from the University of Western Australia, and designers Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) are betting that surfers might put looking just a little silly in front of being eaten by a shark.
They have unveiled two new wetsuits that they say could save lives in the water. The wetsuits are based on a discovery that sharks are colour-blind. One wetsuit, labelled the “Elude”, is designed to camouflage a surfer or diver in the sea.
The other prototype is called the “Diverter” (although we would have called it the Sea Snake) and sports bold white and dark-blue stripes, and is intended to mirror nature’s warning signs to ward off any potential shark attack.
More than two years in development, the suits, which retail at $A495, went on sale via online distributor Radiator on Wednesday.
“Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals – prey that provide a signal that somehow says ‘Don’t eat me’ – and that has been manifest in a striped pattern.” said Prof Shaun Collin, from UWA’s Ocean Institute. The wearer will be obvious, and the idea is the shark will see that as an unpalatable food item and swim right by.”
Testing will continue this summer with great white sharks in the waters off South Australia and South Africa, although Hamish Jolly, from SAMS, said the results so far warranted the suits going on sale immediately.
“We now know what these big predatory sharks can see, and what we have done is convert that science into a marketable technology.” Jolly refused to comment on whether you get your money back if you get chomped in half whilst wearing one of the suits.