Shark Sneak! Behold the ‘Invisible’ Wetsuit

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SAMS “Diverter” wetsuit

I’m no surfer, but even I’ve heard the one about sharks confusing surfers in black wetsuits for seals.

Australian company SAMS (Shark Attack Mitigation System) and the University of Western Australia teamed up to develop a wetsuit that would render surfers and divers invisible to a shark.

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SAMS “Elude” wetsuit

The SAMS suits use pattern to camouflage the wearer in the water. One style, “Elude” mimics the play of light and dark in the water. There’s a light Elude for shallow water and a dark version for deep water. My favorite, the “Diverter,” looks like a something designed by Tim Burton and is designed to wear in “murkier water.” According to PopSci, the high-contrast pattern will repel sharks. Don’t believe it? In the Guardian video below, researchers wrapped a box of fish parts in the striped fabric and dangle the box in front of a shark. The shark investigates but leaves the box untouched.

It turns out sharks are colorblind and see everything in black and white, but they have a very good sense of shade variation, according to the SAMS website:

“Their perception of shading is very acute and impacted by the ‘reflective spectrum’ in the water (how bands of colour react to light)… By disrupting the shark’s visual perception, an attack can either be diverted altogether, or at least delayed allowing time for evasive action.”

The Diverter pattern is similar to the shading of the pilot fish, which swim with sharks and, occasionally swim into the shark’s mouth to clean its teeth. For reasons known only to sharks, the pilot fish rarely get eaten.

Australian wetsuit maker Radiator is the first to license the technology for wetsuits and surfboard stickers. The suits are already on sale at Radiator’s website.

 

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Pilot Fish with an Oceanic Whitetip Shark, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

 

First published at ApparelNews.net on July 19, 2013.