Shark Spotters look out for sharks and warn ocean-users in real time of their presence. As drones become more common, it’s likely that these could also play a role in increasing the detection of sharks near humans and could help us to reduce the risk of attacks. Save Our Seas Foundation Project Leader Kye Adams is investigating this and looking to improve aerial approaches to detecting sharks through Project AIRSHIP.
Fabrics that minimise injuries also exist, like the Ocean Guardian Scuba7 and Kevlar material. In another recent study on blacktip reef sharks, the Scuba7 material reduced the amount of bait taken by 67%. Neoprene with Kevlar also reduced the risk of serious injury by reducing the size and number of punctures from shark bites. So if you’re frequently diving in an area where shark attacks are known, this is something you could consider.
Yes and no. If you’re able to purchase a shark repellent, electric shark deterrents (ESDs) are your best bet, in particular the Ocean Guardian Freedom + Surf (at the time of writing). Not a surfer? There are also fabrics you can wear, like neoprene with Kevlar, that can protect you. But none of these products are perfect.
Remember, shark attacks are incredibly rare – and fatalities even more so. Nevertheless, if you’re in an area where sharks are known to occur, it’s best to be prepared.
There are other ways you can prepare yourself. Find out whether there’s a scheme like Shark Spotters near you that alerts ocean-users to the presence of sharks. Or are there particular times or seasons when shark attacks are more likely? Avoiding these will reduce the risk (such as in California).
Research is ongoing and technologies are improving to reduce the risk of negative shark encounters, especially as the risk is increasing. Remember to follow the science, not the fancy branding and claims of effectiveness, when thinking about what personal protection measures to take!
A. R. G. Gauthier, et al., 2020, Variable response to electric shark deterrents in bull sharks.
Charlie Huveneers, et al., 2018, Effectiveness of five personal shark-bite deterrents for surfers.
Madeline Thiele, et al., 2020, Response of blacktip reef sharks to shark bite mitigation products
Channing A. Egeberg, et al., 2019, Not all electric shark deterrents are made equal: Effects of a commercial electric anklet deterrent on white shark behaviour
Corey J. A. Bradshaw, et al., 2021, Predicting potential future reduction in shark bites on people
Charles W. Bangley, et al., 2018, Increased abundance and nursery habitat use of the bull shark in response to a changing environment in a warm-temperate estuary