Shark Cull: Wearing Bold, Striped Wetsuits to Repel Sharks Better Than Baited Drumlines

By @reissasu on
Animal Rights Activists Gather to Denounce Controversial Programme to Cull Sharks Off Coast of Western Australia.
Animal rights activists gather to denounce controversial programme to cull sharks off coast of Western Australia. February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Julie Noce

Australian scientists believe that wearing striped wetsuits is better than baited drum lines in reducing shark attacks in Western Australia. Researchers from Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) together with the University of Australia, has developed a wetsuit designed with to repel sharks.

The recommendation to wear striped wetsuits to deter shark attacks came after the controversial shark cull policy in Western Australia which remains in the international spotlight. The shark cull uses baited drum lines installed off the coast hoping to draw sharks more than 3 feet. The catch-and-kill policy has earned the ire of environmental groups and conservationists worldwide.

According to SAMS, researchers found that the sharks' vision is the most crucial in the final moments of an attack. Even if sharks have several receptors they use to detect smells in the water, the striped wetsuits will be able to confuse the shark because of its random shapes and colours. Wearing bolder striped wetsuits can also enable the shark see the swimmer as a threat and retreat, according to scientists.

The researchers are hoping that their wetsuit patterns can help deter shark attacks and do  away with the  shark cull eventually.

Western Australia's official cull comes following seven fatal shark attacks in the last three years. The most recent shark attack was in November 2013 when a 35-year-old surfer died.

According to local reports, authorities did not recover the body of a man who was attacked in one of Perth's popular beaches. Only his damaged swim trunks were left behind. Five of the seven attacks had been by Great White sharks.

While Western Australia's shark cull policy was meant to protect beachgoers, it has alarmed and horrified marine conservationists since it goes against the global effort to protect the declining shark population.

The recent shark cull protests have triggered fears of disrupting the ocean's ecosystem if Western Australia is allowed to continue killing sharks. Since the first shark was killed on Australia Day, Jan 26, at least one more shark was killed while trapped in baited drum lines and smaller sharks were released after getting caught.

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