In Australia, the number of shark-human interactions and shark bites per capita has increased, leading to a rise in shark-bite mitigation measures being developed. Yet, many of the products commercially available have not been scientifically tested, potentially providing an exaggerated sense of security to members of the public using them.
In this independent study completed in late 2017 and early 2018, researchers tested five shark deterrents developed for surfers (Shark Shield Pty Ltd [Ocean Guardian] FREEDOM+ Surf, Rpela, SharkBanz bracelet, SharkBanz surf leash [Modom], and Chillax Wax) by comparing the percentage of baits taken, time to take the bait, number of passes, distance to the bait, and whether a shark reaction could be observed.
A total of 297 successful trials were done at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park. During these trials, 44 different white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) interacted with the bait, making a total of 1413 passes.
- In extreme conditions – chummed and baited waters – the FREEDOM+ Surf reduced the percentage of bait taken from 96% to 40%.
- Other deterrents tested had limited or no effect on white sharks.
The results of this research led to the FREEDOM+ Surf being added to the West Australian Government Shark Deterrent Rebate program. Find out more here.
Download and read the full research paper below.