Shark POD – New Technology Against Sharks
Researchers at KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board installed a 100-metre-long cable last week in a small bay in Cape Town that seeks to exploit the sharks' super-sensitive nose. Methods to keep sharks away from swimmers are often met with opposition by environmentalists; however, in this case it seems to be meeting wide spread approval for the test. While shark attacks are not very common, you have a ten times greater chance of getting hit by lighting while swimming then attacked by a shark, they do happen. In addition to the real danger, the sighting of a shark near swimmers can cause panic that can lead to injuries. South Africa has been under pressure lately from environmentalists who claim that the country's fifty year old practice of nets is dangerous to both humans and sharks.Earlier this year Australia's EPA stop a practice of drum lines and steel shark netting being used as a method to protect swimmers and beaches on the country's west coast. The drum lines were used to lure and trap sharks more of half of which were then killed. The EPA urged other methods.
In the mid 1990s, the Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN) Sharks Board of South Africa discovered a unique electronic wave-form that deterred sharks. The KZN Shark Board is considered one of the world's leading research organizations on predator sharks. After many years of research, this technology was developed and incorporated into a product known at the time as the Shark POD. Predatory sharks have small gel filled sacs knows as 'Ampullae of Lorenzini' on their snouts. They use these short range sensors when feeding or searching for food at close range. The Shark POD creates a three-dimensional electrical wave form which creates a very unpleasant sensation impacting the shark's 'Ampullae of Lorenzini'. While the effect differs among species of shark, those that are most aggressive are affected the most while sharks such as nurse sharks do not seem to react. KZN marketed the Shark POD until 2001. They have licensed their patent to an Australian company who has refined the device and it now sold international as the Shark Shield
In 2010, the KZN Shark Board started to work with scientists to modify the technology to cover a larger area and to form a barrier. The result is a cable, fixed to the sea floor, with vertical 'risers' supporting electrodes, which emit a low-frequency, low-power electronic field. The field is not detected or harmful to humans but is expected to keep sharks from approaching the field.