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Does Shark Repellent Work?

   July 5th, 2023   Posted In: Articles  

So, Does Shark Repellant Work?

As marine animals, sharks may be found in all of the oceans around the globe. The ocean is their home, and we trespass it whenever we hit the waves or dive into the water. However, if there are sharks in the ocean, surfers won’t be able to enjoy the waves.

Do Shark Deterrents Work?

The production of shark deterrents has increased dramatically in the 21st century. Thanks to technological advancements, we now have shark-deterrent technologies that work well. There are five basic categories of shark deterrents available today:

  • Magnetic
  • Electric
  • Sound
  • Semiochemical
  • Visual

You may find them in surf leashes, elastic straps, spray containers, and wetsuits on store shelves.

Furthermore, surfers may prefer one kind, while divers and casual swimmers may feel more at ease in another. Shark deterrents and shark repellents may not be foolproof, but they can help alleviate your fears. This is especially the case if you plan on surfing the most well-known breaks at beaches in Florida, South Africa, California, or Australia, all of which are notorious for their shark populations.

Why Use Shark Repellents

Sharks are known to prey on unsuspecting surfers, but sharks attacks while surfing can be a rare occurrence. Sadly, numerous members of the surfing community and their loved ones have been taken by the predator.

When something as simple as a surf leash may save a surfer’s death, why wouldn’t we use them and work to make them better? Great white ambush attacks are still hard to prevent, however, some products greatly improve the odds of avoiding a shark attack when surfing.

The Most Common Type of Repellent: ESDS

An electric shark deterrent, or ESD, is a device used to prevent shark attacks. Although not all ESDs are created equal, this product is the most widely available form of shark repellent. They use sharks’ electro-sensory abilities. A shark’s head is covered in many tiny electro-receptors. Ampullae of Lorenzini are sensitive to extremely weak electrical currents. Their primary function is to aid sharks in locating prey at close range. 

Bull sharks, like many other species, use electroreception to locate prey, thus it seems to reason that they would have more of these receptors than do visual predators like white sharks or scavengers like tiger sharks. These ESDs are designed to overpower the shark’s electrical senses. Each one sends out its unique electrical pulses to deter sharks. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) devices are the most effective personal shark repellent.

Can They Actually Stop A Shark Attack?

That varies. In 2018, a study by Save Our Seas Foundation conducted research on shark repellents. In this study, researchers evaluated the efficacy of five different common deterrents in keeping white sharks from eating the bait. Ocean Guardian Freedom + Surf, Rpela, a SharkBanz bracelet or surf leash, and Chillax Wax were the repellents they performed the research on.

Ocean Guardian Freedom + Surf was the only gadget to noticeably alter shark behavior. The device resulted in a 40% reduction in bait consumption, down from 96% (with no repellant) when the bait was presented without the device. When the Freedom + Surf was turned on, white sharks stayed 2.6 meters (8 feet and 6 inches) away from the board, compared to 1.6 meters (5 feet) when no repellent was used. 

The second ESD (the Rpela) and the other four deterrents had little to no impact on white sharks. Even with the most efficient mechanism in place, 40% of white sharks nonetheless fell for the bait. The effectiveness of the repellant depends on several factors, including the shark’s hunger. 

Ward Off Sharks with, Sharks…?

According to a 2014 research by SharkDefense Technologies, the use of the odor of dead sharks to prevent living sharks from the region shows some potential, at least when it comes to Caribbean reef sharks and blacknose sharks. However, there has been no further scientific validation of this. They weren’t trying out a commercially available shark repellant, but rather seeing what would happen if they released canisters full of shark essence. 

Another strategy depends on sharks’ supposedly poor vision. Sharks, supposedly, can’t tell colors apart. Wetsuits in black and white are designed to take advantage of this fact by disguising the wearer’s silhouette. However, once again, this is difficult to test scientifically. The idea sounds reasonable, and anecdotal evidence from a wetsuit maker in 2013 seems to back it up. There has been no follow-up testing of these goods in a scientific setting, thus it is unclear if they are useful in deterring shark attacks.

Why Didn’t The Other ESDSs Work?

Even ESDs vary from one another. Wearable shark repellents include the E-Shark Force and NoShark, which are designed to be worn on the wrist or ankle. White sharks have also been used for testing the Electronic Shark Defence System (ESDS), a different kind of electric ankle shark deterrent. There was no detectable change in shark behavior. Probably, the placement of the electrodes and the intensity of the electric field generated by an ESD determine how well it functions. These ESDs are simply not adequate.

The Bottom Line on Shark Deterrents

There is no one universal shark repellent, and none of them can be said to be 100% effective against all sharks. Research has proven that Freedom + Surf is the most effective personal repellent against both white sharks and bull sharks. However, this only lessens the likelihood of getting bitten by roughly 60%, and the sharks may still approach you. Even though the odds of being attacked are already quite slim, even while the likelihood of getting bitten by a shark is minimal, it’s still not an incident anyone would want to experience.

Do Shark Deterrents Actually Work?

Well, sort of. The most effective shark repellents available for purchase are electric shark deterrents (ESDs). Not into surfing? Protective clothing materials are also available. However, none of these solutions is without drawbacks. Keep in mind that deadly shark attacks are an extremely unusual occurrence. That said, you should always be ready for the worst if you’re in waters where sharks are a recognized threat. 

Besides researching shark repellents, there are other methods of getting prepared. See if there is a program in your area that warns swimmers of sharks. Alternatively, do shark attacks occur more frequently throughout certain periods of the year? If you stay away from them during these periods, you’ll be safer.

Quadri Abdur is an enthusiastic writer who creates well-researched, SEO articles and website content for websites, blogs, and social media. His other interests include watching football, rom-com & high school drama TV shows, playing games, and researching new technologies.

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