The dramatic footage of Australian pro surfer Mick Fanning narrowly escaping a shark attack in South Africa last year sent chills down our collective spines. And while the experts say the chance of a shark attack is rare, Fanning’s encounter, along with a spate of other attacks over the past year, has left many people anxious about sharing the ocean with sharks.
So it’s not surprising to see sales of personal shark deterrents or repellents starting to gain some traction. But just how effective are they in preventing a shark from attacking?
In this review we look at:
- Electrical repellents like Shark Shield, NoShark and Surf Safe
- Magnetic repellents like Sharkbanz and Shark Shocker
- Acoustic repellent SharkStopper
- Spray repellent Anti-Shark 100
- Changing board colour
- Shark-deterring wetsuits by Shark Attack Mitigation Systems
- The real risk of a shark attack
- Lack of guarantees for shark repellents
- Are shark repellents worth it?
- Reducing the risk of a shark attack
- Shark-reporting app Dorsal
Shark-repellent devices claim to reduce the risk of a shark attack by interfering with one of the many senses sharks use to detect their prey – either sight, smell, hearing, or a special sense that sharks have to detect electromagnetic fields.
Electrical shark repellents
Electrical shark deterrents claim to work by emitting a small electrical current into the water, which interferes with special sensing organs sharks have in their snout called ampullae of Lorenzini. These organs detect small electrical currents given off by their prey, such as from the heartbeat of a nearby fish. When overstimulated, the sensory organs spasm, forcing the shark to turn away.
So how effective are electrical shark deterrents at preventing an attack?