Researchers in West Oz working to change surfer's underwater silhouttes
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 April, 2015 - Western Australia - The Guardian reports today that a group of researchers are testing different ways to make surfers look less like seals, including shark-deterrent lights.
Following a theory that most surfing related shark attacks are the result of surfers' silhouettes bearing a striking resemblance to those of seals, most shark's main source of sustenance. (The theory has always been widely held to be true, though little research had been done to discover why, exactly, that might be the case.)
The piece quotes University of Western Australia's Ocean Institute and School of Animal Biology professor Dr. Nathan Hart: “What we are trying to do is understand what the shark is interested in and what their natural prey’s signals are, to see if there’s anything to this myth that they mistake surfers for prey. If we find that the silhouette of a surfboard is an attractive thing, for a shark it thinks it’s a large seal lounging about on the surface, then perhaps by breaking up that silhouette by attaching lights to the bottom we can change that.”
Dr. Hart said they plan on attaching lights to decoy seals. If the theory is correct—that sharks attack surfers mistakenly thinking them seals—then the lighted decoys will attract fewer.
The tests will take place in South Africa, which is even sharkier than the already sharky waters off Western Australia.