Mayo is one of my favourite places to go to in Ireland to relax and off course to surf. I have been living in Dublin all my life and there is nothing better than getting out of the city and heading west to my family’s holiday home outside Westport, Here are a few photos I have taken over the years
As some of you may have noticed I am interested in everything to do with the sea from sea-life to water-sports. Recently I posted how the Australian public are notified by Twitter of the location of sharks when they get too close to the Australian coastline. The presence of sharks in the water is a major deterrent for many people, which prevents them trying new activities such as surfing or scuba diving, but this may soon change.
The other day I was looking through surfing websites, when I came across an article, where scientists have designed wetsuits that supposedly deter sharks. If this is the case this is a major break- through and will hopefully reduce the amount of fatalities and deaths that happen each year. It will also reduce the indiscriminate killing of sharks. The new designs can be seen below:
Professor Shaun Collin and Professor Nathan Hart have been studying shark’s vision for a number of years and are considered the world’s leading authority. They made a number of significant discoveries relating to sharks, they discovered that sharks see in black and white. When sharks are hunting they use a number of senses to locate their prey and vision also plays a vital role in the final stage of an attack. The scientists suggest that by disrupting a shark’s visual perception, an attack can either be diverted altogether or at least delayed to allow the victim time to exit the water.
Shark attack mitigation systems also know as SAMS have been working with the University of Western Australia for a number years and has translated the scientific data into a range of shark deterrent designs.
The two design variations either present the wearer as potentially dangerous and unpalatable to a shark, or make it very difficult for the shark to see the wearer in the water. The shark deterrent technology can be applied to products such as wetsuits, skins and stickers for diving air tanks, surfboards, kayaks, skis and more. I think these new designs are pretty cool and would have no problem wearing one if I was surfing in warmer waters than the cold Irish waters.
There is also discussion about the shark shields that have been developed for surfboards. How this works is all predatory sharks have highly sensitive electrical receptors called “Ampullae of Lorenzini” located in their snouts. These tiny gel filled sacs can only sense electrical current from prey at very close distances. A powerful but localised electrical field is generated by Shark Shield devices and causes the sharks gel filled sacs to spasm and the shark to flee the immediate area. There are no known long term adverse effects to the shark and as a result Shark Shield devices support the conservation of sharks by removing the need for culling or other lethal means of managing human and shark interactions.
They are now developing surfboards with the shark shield built into the fins. The new surfboard shark deterrent will revolutionize the surfing industry and is the first major innovation in surfing since the thruster and removable fins from FCS. Everyone will again be able to confidently surf any break without the intimidation or fear of sharks. These new innovation are meant to have no impact on current surfboard manufacturing or the shaping design processes and zero to minimal impact on surfboard performance. Not only will the new deterrent protect the surfer, but multiple surfers will create a virtual electronic shark barrier. The surfers will appear like an electronic mine field to sharks so all beach goers will benefit from this innovation too. How the electronic shark deterrent works is that is consists of two electrodes that use salt water as a conductor between the two, creating an electrical field that deters sharks.
The other day I came across a very interesting article titled “Australia: Sharks Use Twitter To Warn Swimmers” which I thought was very interesting. Traditionally Sharks have been spotted by air and by boat along Australia’s coasts but now this has gone digital. Scientists in Australia have tagged well over 300 different Sharks that patrol the waters. There are beacons in the water and if a shark comes within 1 km of these it sends a signal to a computer which then sends a tweet. The tweet contains the species of the shark e.g Tiger or Great White, its size and the time it was last in the area. This is very useful for surfers, swimmers and beach users as they now can make informed decisions before entering the water. There is also the possibility of sending this message to a smart watch so that surfers or swimmers can act on this message while in the sea. This will hopefully reduce the amount of attacks that occur, as Western Australia is the worlds deadliest place for shark attacks.
If this is successful and reduces the amount of attacks, it may be used worldwide. It may also reduce the amount of sharks killed each year, because they come too close to our beaches. Its not their fault they come in contact with humans, we are entering their habitat at our own risk. I can relate to this as I surf myself and have had an encounter with a Tiger Shark in South Carolina when I was a beach lifeguard one summer. Luckily I was not attacked, but if I was it would have been my fault as I knew there were sharks in the water. I was surfing near a pier where people were fishing, it was dusk so prime time for sharks. The shark came within 3 meters of me, never have been so scared, slowly I turned around and paddled as quick as I could for the next wave and the safety of the beach.