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These wetsuits confuse and repel sharks

Posting in Design

The Zebra-like pattern displayed here makes the wearer undesirable to sharks (just watch out for lions)

Shark attacks are rare, but there's adequate apprehension in water sports for Australian scientists to have created wetsuits that can deter unwanted encounters.

Earlier today, Michelle Starr, our CNET compatriot down under, published an article about new wetsuit designs that promise to make shark attack even more unusual. A company called Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) partnered with the University of Western Australia's Ocean Institute to produce designs based upon scientific research into the vision of sharks. It turns out that the predators can be regularly fooled into avoiding humans with specialized colors and patterns that take advantage of evolutionary quirks.

SAMS is selling two models: one effectively camouflages people from sharks; another mimics nature's warning colors to turn them off from taking a nosh. The "Elude" makes it more difficult for colorblind sharks to see the wearer by blending him or her into the ocean, and the "Diverter" will make a shark think twice about pursuing people because it resembles the look of venomous sea creatures.

SAMS has tested its gear to draw sharks in for an attack with bait, and it says that the preliminary results were encouraging. The suits are now available on preorder through the surf brand Radiator. Diverter board stickers are also coming to market.

While people are creating new technology to avoid sharks, some scientists and engineers cannot get enough of them. Shark skin has been found to produce thrust in the water, potentially leading to new swimming aides that will increase speed. Engineers are also researching how to reproduce how the ridged scales of sharks reduce friction between the animals and water. That discovery could lead to faster ships, more efficient airplanes, and even windmills that work better.

(Image credit: SAMS)

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— By on July 22, 2013, 12:03 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure