Adelaide (Australia) – An anti-shark device became shark food after it failed spectacularly in the waters near South Africa. This shocking (ok maybe not so shocking) information came to light during an inquest held in South Australia over the death of a swimmer who was wearing the same device. The Shark Shield device promises to repel sharks with pulses of electromagnetic waves, but some people think it is high-tech snake oil.
Sold for 765 AUD, the Shark Shield consists of a battery and an electrode that you wear on your tank or body. The electrode puts out an invisible ‘shield’ of electromagnetic waves that supposedly cause muscle spasm in sharks that get within five to eight meters. Sharks have tiny pores in their nose area that detect EM fields and the inventor of the Shark Shield says the shark feels like it is listening to cranked up speakers.
Rod Hartley, director of Sea Change Technology and makers of the Shark Shield told the inquest panel that the device does not attract sharks. However, the company seems to be hedging their bets in their online FAQ by saying, “However, it must be remembered that all sharks are dangerous and unpredictable creatures, and therefore a 100% guarantee cannot be given. It is impossible to guarantee that all sharks will be deterred under all circumstances.”
The Shark Shield failure in South Africa happened after researchers activated the device on a test raft that was carrying some bait. A 3.6 meter-long female shark then ate the device.
A quick look at several diving and surfing forums show that many people do wear the device and are quite happy with how it works. Other wearers says they haven’t notice any changes in shark behavior and that the sharks initially seemed to be attracted to the swimmer.
The inquest is being run by South Australia’s Deputy State Coroner Tony Schapel. Mr. Schapel is investigating the death of Jarod Stehbens who presumably died by shark attack two years ago while wearing two Shark Shield devices. Stehbens’ body has never been found.