Something new in surf fashion – the shark proof wetsuit

by admin in Category News and tagged , , ,

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Never ones to turn a blind eye to fashion for the water, Bondi Wear couldn’t help but notice that the new shark-repellent wetsuit, developed by West Australians Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson, is rather…ummm…interesting looking. There are two prototypes actually, a black and white bold striped design (rather like piano keys viewed sideways) and an aquamarine-blue wavy design.

Both prototypes serve a purpose in protecting surfers and swimmers or divers from shark attacks, which makes sense given the fact that sharks are thought not to actually enjoy the taste of human flesh. See both in action (complete with a matching black and white surfboard) below:

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The black and white one is designed to look like a non-palatable (inedible) food item, while the blue and white design is meant to hide a swimmer, snorkeler or diver in the water column, effectively making them invisible to sharks. The two designs were developed in collaboration between the company Jolly and Anderson own, Shark Attack Mitigation Systems, and the University of Western Australia and are based on “breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for sharks,” Anderson told The Daily Telegraph.

The black and white suit, called the ‘Diverter’ and the blue and white ‘Elude’ suit work in different ways, so each is needed for a specific situation (i.e surfing, diving or snorkelling).The bold black and white pattern mimics a number of marine species which have a striped pattern which wards off predators according to UWA researcher Shaun Collin. “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,” he told the Telegraph.

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So does it work?

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Testing has been done on the wetsuits using dummies and tiger sharks, and apparently they glide past the prototypes but still attack dummies in traditional black wetsuits. More real testing will be done this summer in the Southern Hemisphere though (off the coast of Australia and Africa) – so that will be the real result, although the developers are hopeful that the suits will ward off shark attacks this coming summer.

You’ll have to be prepared to part with some cash though if you want to be protected, as the suits cost $429 (US$392) each at the moment, but they are available for purchase from wetsuit manufacturer Radiator.

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According to Jolly and Anderson many around the world will be relieved to discover the new technology, and he reassured shark conservationists that the suits pose absolutely no threat to the safety or wellbeing of sharks, adding that the suits are all natural materials.

One thing’s for certain as far as we’re concerned; the humble wetsuit has become a lot more funky thanks to these designs. Just check out these boring old ‘classic’ wetsuits and you’ll probably agree.

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We also wonder, would a shark-repellent wetsuit have helped this man, who was hit by the tail of a Whale who ended up a little too close to shore? Despite being perilously close to beaching himself, he seemed to have a whale of a time playing with surfers about 40m out before slapping a local doctor, Bishan Rajapakse.