Australian surfboard maker develops electric shark deterrent device

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This summer we have seen not only an increase in shark sightings but also an unprecedented number of shark attacks. In North and South Carolina, 8 surfers were attacked within a three-week period. Meanwhile, in Orange County, California, an influx of shark sightings led to the closing of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, surf capital of the West Coast. Let us not forget Mick Fanning’s narrow escape from a shark attack during a surf competition in South Africa.  

Warmer waters have attracted sharks to shallower waters while increased temperatures have brought more people to the ocean. As the proximity between sharks and humans continues to increase, the need for a humane way to reduce the risk of shark attacks is paramount.

Australian surfboard maker Dave Smith may have a solution to this problem. Smith has developed a $390 electric shark deterrent device that can be embedded on the underside of a surfboard.

Smith was inspired to create his company, Surf Safe, after the death of Ben Linden who died from a shark attack in 2012. Smith wanted to be more proactive in finding real, tangible solutions that would reduce the risk of shark attacks.

So how does it work? Smith’s shark deterrent device weighs as much as a smart phone. When fitted between the fins of a board, the device has no impact on the board’s performance.

An electric current creates a 3-meter barrier around the surfer. When a shark gets too close, the electric current affects the Ampullae of Lorenzini, special sensing organs located on the nose of the shark, causing discomfort; thus, prompting the shark to swim away. The device turns on automatically when in contact with salt water and has a battery life of 12 hours.

Through the power of technology and innovation, Smith’s light-weight device may provide a simple way to protect sharks and humans, allowing both to coexist harmoniously.


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