Australian firm launches 'anti-shark' wetsuits

Australian firm launches 'anti-shark' wetsuits
A surfer (L) and a diver (R) wearing wetsuits displaying the two styles of SAMS shark deterrent technology.

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

Working in conjunction with the University of Western Australia's (UWA) 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," 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 colour blindness to essentially "hide you in the water column", 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 patten to imitate an "unpalatable food item", according to UWA researcher Shaun Collin.

"Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals - prey that provide a signal that somehow says 'Don't eat me' - and that has been manifest in a striped pattern," said Collin.

It is the culmination of a two-year research project funded by the Western Australia government following an unprecedented spate of shark attacks in the state which claimed five lives in the year to July 2012.

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