Wetsuits turn sharks off lunching on humans

By Amy Coopes in Sydney

The wetsuits use bold black-and-white and aqua banding patterns to repel sharks.
The wetsuits use bold black-and-white and aqua banding patterns to repel sharks.

An Australian research firm has launched what are being touted as the world's first anti-shark wetsuits, using new discoveries about the predators' eyesight to stave off or evade an attack.

Working in conjunction with the University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute, entrepreneurs Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson have developed two lines of wetsuit designed to protect divers and surfers from sharks.

"It's based on new breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for predatory sharks," Mr Anderson told AFP.

"We've been able to interpret that science and convert that into, basically, materials that create some confusion for sharks' visual systems."

The blue-and-white "Elude" range, designed for divers and snorkellers, uses research about sharks' perceptions of light and their colour blindness to essentially "hide you in the water column", Mr Anderson said.

The "Diverter" - mainly for surfers - is based on what sharks perceive as danger signs in nature, with a bold black-and-white banding pattern to imitate an "unpalatable food item", according to University of WA researcher Shaun Collin.

It is the culmination of a two-year research project funded by the Western Australia government.

Testing of the designs using dummies and tiger sharks off Australia's west coast has been successful, with the marine predators gliding past the entrepreneurs' patterns but savaging traditional black wetsuits.

- NZ Herald

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