Oh No, Not Another Shark Repellent (But This One Might Just Work)
by Owen James Burke
(Image: KZNSB via Canada Journal)
“Shark Pod” is designed to be laid along the ocean floor and surrounded by marker buoys in areas heavily trafficked by humans. The cable will give off an electromagnetic field that, according to maker KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, will ward off sharks.
Yes, we’ve seen everything from Batman’s shark repellent spray to zebra-striped wetsuits and high-frequency sound beacons, but now, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) as an equally innovative yet entirely plausible solution to shark attacks on humans (though we’re still not entirely convinced they’re such a bad thing).
In order to deter sharks, which are electromagnetically hyper-sensitive, is not by putting hooks, spears, or bullets into them, but by overstimulating their senses, scientists say. So, KZNSB has come up with a device called Shark Pod.
Whenever I read about another cockamamy scheme to create a shark repellent, I can’t help but think of this scene from a 1966 episode of Batman:
…But somehow, I’m inclined to have a little faith in KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board’s new project.
Sharks have bio-electric receptors on the tips of their snouts called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which scientists have known about for many years, and work hyper-sensitively like a dog’s sense of smell, only with electricity. This is how they’re able to sense movement so well from so far away, and decipher differences between struggling prey and a swifter-moving, larger, more dangerous predator.
KZNSB CEO Mthokozisi Radebe has stated that “If this system works, it will keep sharks and bathers at a safe distance from each other without harming either humans or sharks.”
The cable is 100 meters long and instead of using magnets to send sharks swimming, emits a low-frequency, low-power electronic field that has been proven to deter white sharks (and presumably others). It is currently being tested off white shark-laden South Africa until March of 2015, and KZNSB hopes that soon thereafter, they’ll be shipping Shark Pod around the world.