Scientists have created a revolutionary wetsuit that is ‘shark bite resistant,’ in an attempt to make Australia’s beaches a safer place for surfers and swimmers.
The protective layer is made from molecular weight polyethlene, the same material used in tow ropes for large ships.
This material is then bonded to standard neoprene wetsuit material, creating the ultra strong outer layer that mitigates against a shark’s bite.
”The material is very very strong, whilst being very light, and not affected too much by water,” leader of the Southern Shark Ecology Group, associate professor Charlie Huveneers said.
His research results were published in an international peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2019.
”Our results showed that the fabric tested may provide some protection against shark bites and could be used as part of a shark bite mitigation strategy,” the study said.
Assoc Prof Huvaneers added that the fabric was ”developed with the intent of being resistant to cuts and punctures so that it reduces wounds and therefore blood loss which is the main cause of fatalities from shark attacks”.
To test their resistance, the researchers performed puncture and laceration tests in the lab, before throwing the materials into the water at the end of 2019, where great white sharks proceeded to bite them.
The sharks ranged in size from three to four metres, and had some pretty ferocious teeth on them.
Despite this, the materials were shown to offer much better protection than standard neoprene suits.
Dr Huveneers added: “We found that the new fabrics were more resistant to puncture, laceration, and bites from White Sharks than standard neoprene.”
The study was commissioned after the International Shark Attack File released statistics on shark attacks in 2018.
The statistics revealed that there were 130 cases of shark-human incidents, including 66 unprovoked attacks.
Meanwhile, five of these attacks were fatal – four of which were unprovoked.