What are shark repellents and how do they work?
From Jaws to “Shark Week,” our society has become enamored (and terrified) of sharks. If you’ve you ever wanted to go out in the ocean to surf, swim, or scuba dive and had second thoughts, you’re not alone. What if there’s a shark in the water? Am I safe? Luckily, there are incredible advancements in shark repellent technology these days. From magnets to electricity to emitting sounds of other animals, they’re trying anything to keep people safe in the open ocean. We’ll dive into the technologies available and let you know what the best options are for staying safe from sharks while enjoying the gifts that our oceans have to offer.
What are shark repellents?
Shark repellents are inventions to ward off sharks while you’re enjoying your time in the ocean. They’re a great way to have added security, keeping you worry-free as you float in the water. If you or someone you know is an avid ocean fan, these options are worth some research (and make great gifts). There are a few types of shark repellent choices available, from electrical to magnetic to acoustic (and shark avoiding tricks, like switching flashy silver and yellow surfboards for darker blacks and blues). The main point of shark repellent devices is pretty obvious, but the way the different technologies work is as different as a whale shark and a great white shark.
Types of Shark Repellent Devices
There are three main types of shark repellent devices; electrical, magnetic, and acoustic. Let’s dive into the differences.
Electrical shark deterrents send out an electrical signal into the ocean, which can interrupt a shark’s sensing organs they have, called the ampullae of Lorenzini, in their snouts. These organs are used to detect a fish’s heartbeat or nearby prey. When they get hit with the electrical current, they get over stimulated and move away from the current.
The effectiveness of magnetic shark repellent devices was found accidentally, when a scientist dropped one into a shark tank and saw the sharks flee away from the magnet. Apparently, magnets can affect the same sensing organs that an electrical current can, creating an uncomfortable feeling in the snout of any nearby sharks. This has been debated, as some studies show that sharks were more attracted to bait with a magnet attached to it, which doesn’t sound like something you’d want to wear in the ocean. Though the effectiveness of a magnetic shark repellent band is under question, some people feel safer exploring the ocean with one strapped to their wrist or ankle.
With acoustic shark repellents, you can emit the sound of an orca, or killer whale, from a plastic band that you can wear on your leg. Does sounding like an orca really stop sharks from attacking? Scientists at UWA don’t think so. Sharks are smart and will figure out that you’re not a killer whale eventually. While an inventive way to deter sharks, there are other methods that have been more researched and proven.
So, what’s the best choice when it comes to shark repellent devices? Electrical seems to be the clear winner from our research. If you’re looking for peace of mind while swimming, surfing, or exploring the ocean, strap on an electrical shark repellent bracelet to float worry-free.
The Shark Repellent Market
There are a growing number of shark repellent devices available today, but not all of them have been tested (or haven’t shown favorable test results). Make sure to do your research before investing in the right shark repellent for you or a loved one! Read on to learn about some of the most popular devices on the market.
Sharkbanz Magnetic Shark Repellent and Shark Shocker can be worn on the wrist or ankle and uses magnets to keep sharks away. On the positive side, they are super affordable, but as stated before, this may not be the best way to avoiding sharks, since the technology isn’t as convincing as electrical shark repellent bands.
E-Shark Force’s Swim2 shark repellent bracelet is one of the most convincing options on the market. This shark repellent band attaches easily to your wrist or ankle and turns on automatically as you dip into saltwater. The compact design makes sure it doesn’t weigh you down, while still keeping you safe from shark incidents (bumps or bites). This is one shark repellent band that has gone through rigorous testing and has been proven to keep sharks at bay. It’s easy to charge with wireless charging and will keep you safe for 3-4 hours at a time in Big Blue. The Swim2 shark repellent bracelet keeps sharks 30-40 feet away from you and is made in the USA.
Shark Shield is another electrical shark repellent that leaves a 2 meter cord trailing behind you, which creates an electrical field behind the user. It can be wrapped around an ankle or attached to a board. At nearly $750, though, you have to be serious about your sport before investing in it. The latest study on Shark Shield saw that it stopped attacks from tiger sharks and great whites most of the time, but it wasn’t always effective. The Shield Fredom7 Shark Repellent turns on once it hits saltwater and protects its user up to 50 meters deep into the ocean. The battery lasts up to 300 charges, but the price is on the steep side.
Surf Safe is made specifically to be installed on to a board, whether for surfing or stand up paddle boarding. The company claims they’ve done all sorts of in-house testing, but haven’t proven themselves with independent testing quite yet.
Shark Attack Capital of the World
If you’re a Florida resident, owning a shark repellent band is almost a necessity. Since they started tracking shark attacks in 1837, there have been a reported 828 shark attacks in the Sunshine State. With reports from all over the Florida coast about shark activity, wearing a shark repellent bracelet can keep your worries at bay.
In New Smyrna Beach, owning the title, “shark attack capital of the world,” a 9-year-old-girl suffered a shark bite needing 12 stitches. Though she plans on going back in the water, there’s hope that her parents are looking into safety options like an E-Shark Force Swim2 Unit. There have also been back-to-back shark attacks in the area, including an experienced surfer who said the shark latched onto his arm.
Another report from National Geographic gives reason why there are more shark attacks in the Atlantic vs. Pacific Ocean. The differences are too complicated to list, but one big reason is that the sharks on the East Coast are more likely to attack than the West Coast sharks. Most victims tend to be surfers or swimmers, which means that a shark repellent device is key to staying safe.
Our Shark Repellent Recommendation
You’ve read about different types of devices, ways to keep sharks away, and what can happen without protection, especially if you live in Florida or border the Atlantic Ocean. Wearing a shark repellent band can not only give you peace of mind when in the open ocean, but the right one can keep sharks from attacking.
The most effective technology we’ve seen (and has the most research) is an electrical shark repellent bracelet. The E-Shark Force Swim2 wins out due to its proven effectiveness, price point, and design. The next time you visit the ocean, make sure you’re equipped with the right shark repellent so you can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, surf, or stand up paddle board without fear of a shark attack.