Ever go swimming in the ocean and wonder what might be swimming underneath you? It's a common fear, and has only become more widespread due to the popularity of films like Jaws. However, shark attacks are not just confined to works of fiction. In fact, according to the International Shark Attack File, 2015 set a record high for unprovoked shark attacks around the world. Shark attacks are a growing problem, so it's understandable that researchers have been looking into ways to prevent them.
One method that has proven effective at deterring sharks is the use of magnetic fields. This works due to a sensory organ found on the nose of sharks, known as the Ampullae of Lorenzini. These jelly-filled pores allow a shark to sense electric fields in water, and the shark uses them to pick up the muscle contractions of prey, and also to navigate based on the earth's natural magnetic fields. Scientists eventually determined that strong magnets can interfere with this organ at close range, much like staring directly into a bright spotlight would interfere with your vision.
Sharkbanz, a father-son company based in Charleston, South Carolina, applied this technology to wearable wristbands. It may sound hard to believe that a magnetic wristband could really scare away a shark, but the company has done quite a bit of research and testing to prove that it works. They even partnered with Dr. Patrick Rice, a marine biologist, and Dr. Eric Stroud, a chemist, to validate the technology against various shark species.
Essentially, Sharkbanz is a 3-ounce rubberized device, similar in size and shape to a large wristwatch. It's worn like a wristwatch, too, or can be strapped to your ankle if you prefer. It uses no electricity or batteries, and is designed to fit wrist and ankle sizes between 5.5 to 14 inches in circumference. Currently, three colors are available, each at an MSRP of $65.
Obviously, this is not a fail-safe technology, so you should still be careful when and where you swim, and maintain good situational awareness in the water. However, it appears that these Sharkbanz may provide an effective and non-lethal way to deter sharks from swimmers. For more information on Sharkbanz wristbands and other products, visit Sharkbanz.com.