Shark Repellents: Minimizing the Great White Threat

New shark shields use electric, chemical signals

Outdoor Life Online Editor

In the wake of recent shark attacks in Florida, many Americans can't help but wonder when it will be safe to go back into the water.

Across the Atlantic, fearful South Africans express the same concerns. Last month, a medical student was eaten by a 16-foot great white off Cape Town.

Meanwhile, scientists have been working on developing tools aimed at deterring the monster predators, and subsequently reducing the risk of shark attacks. Among the new methods, electronic beach shields and chemical repellents show the most promise.

An electronic-shield system would function by creating a barrier of low-level underwater electric signals. Sharks, unlike humans and other marine creatures, are extremely sensitive to these electrical fields.

Chemical repellents use natural chemical signals to confuse sharks. According to researchers, the chemical signals would shift the animals from hunting mode to flight mode. In the event of an attack, a small amount of the chemical substance can clear an area of sharks for up to 15 minutes.

Ironically, the new repellent systems could also help save sharks from deadly encounters with commercial fishing vessels and shark nets.