New Wetsuits Protect Surfers By Playing Mind Games with Sharks

Monday August 5th, 2013


Shark Attack Mitigation Systems. As far as company names go, that's a great one. What does the company do? It makes systems that mitigate shark attacks. Bam. Right to the shark attack-mitigating point.

Specifically, SAMS produces a new line of wetsuits that rely on visual trickery to, in theory, prevent sharks from nomming on surfers and divers. The Western Australia-based company, in collaboration with The Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia, used research and anecdotal evidence to create wetsuit designs featuring contrasting colors. The patterns, in combination with light, can jumble a shark's depth perception and make it more difficult for the predator to know what it's chasing.

diverterbeachAccording to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, 80 unprovoked shark attacks occurred worldwide in 2012, with the majority occurring in the United States:

Following long-term trends, North American waters had the most (52.5%: 42 attacks) unprovoked bites in 2012. The total of 53 attacks in the United States (including 11 in non-North American Hawaii and Puerto Rico) was the highest U.S. yearly total since 53 attacks were recorded in 2000. The 2012 total lies in stark contrast with the 31 recorded in 2011, the lowest U.S. total since 2009 (29).

Shark attack numbers fluctuate dramatically, so last year's spike isn't necessarily indicative of a growing problem. Then again, there's no way of knowing what will happen. Best suit up.


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