Electronic surf devices keep sharks at bay

29 Aug, 2015 5:58 pm

SYDNEY – After a spate of shark attacks at some of Australia’s top surfing beaches, Arlen Macpherson is among those who still brave the waters off Sydney. But he’s taking precautions – paying US$280 for a device called SurfSafe.

Embedded in his surf board it can repel sharks by emitting an electronic forcefield that overpowers its sensing organs called electroreceptors.

Surfer, Arlen Macpherson says: “I just got it with all the current attacks and everything happening. I’ve always been a little but worried about sharks and it’s just to help with the peace of mind. If you’re ever surfing by yourself and anything that helps with your peace of mind is worth it, I reckon.”

There have been 12 shark attacks in New South Wales state this year, compared with only three in both 2014 and 2013, according to the Australian Shark Attack database. The worst came in February, when a Great White mauled a surfer to death in the Ballina area.

But experts warn devices such as SurfSafe can’t protect surfers completely.

Rob Harcourt, Professor of Marine Ecology at Macquarie University says: “They do reduce your chances of being bitten, or at least they reduce your chances of bait being bitten but by the same token they don’t stop it from happening, So they are not 100 percent fail-safe, they just give you a lower probably of being bitten.”

Despite this, surfers said they’d feel safer using the device.

Lawyer Bart Adams said: “Yeah, definitely consider it if it was effective. I wouldn’t want to be the test pilot though.”

French tourist and Surfer, Amaury, said: “Yeah, of course, of course, yeah. Anything that could get the sharks away from me for sure, and away from my board and my fellow surfers, yes for sure.”

With more people swimming, scuba-diving and surfing off Australia’s coast, the hope is such devices could help keep the Great Whites at bay in future. –Reuters


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