You will have probably heard by now that another fatal shark attack took place this weekend. A 33-year-old diver died of the WA after having been mauled by a hark. Of this particular shark it is only known that is about 4m long, because the victim's brother who was in the water with him saw its shape. The suggestion in the media is that it was a great white shark, but the patrol boat that was sent out after the attack never found one.
Experts say there is no evidence that population numbers of great whites are increasing. The great white, like other shark species, is classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Even so, people are increasingly frightened of a them, judging by all the discussions on news channels and websites this weekend. Kurmann's death was the fourth in WA waters in seven months, which makes it one of the most shark attack prone areas in the world, and according to tourism operators it is now starting to scare overseas visitors away. In this blog we like to present the facts to see if this fear is justified and discuss the use of Shark Shields as a deterrent.
Did the victim die Scuba Diving? When we hear 'diver' we immediately think about a scuba diver, but in fact we don't even know if this last victim had scuba gear on. We do know he was fishing for crayfish and possibly had bait with him or captured cray fish when he was attacked off Stratham Beach. Of course there is a big difference in just a scuba diver and a scuba diver who is (spear)fishing, which is only legal in WA and banned in all other states. Sharks are more likely to be attracted by the bleeding catch than by large humans.
Of the four recent victims there was only one other scuba diver, and he was actually Spearfishing off Rottnest Island in Perth, a fact that only emerged after the attack and put it into a whole different light.
Shark Shields The State's premier, Colin Barnett promised to look into culling sharks after the last attack on a swimmer off the Perth coast, but now admits that's not realistic: 'While it's still a rare occurrence, the ocean is the domain of the shark, and we go there with a risk always.' Instead the state is monitoring the sharks' behaviour off the WA coast at the moment and increasing beach patrols. They are also considering shark nets, but as divers we all know that those are damaging many other threatened species too and are not really effective anyway to deter sharks from patrolling busy beach areas if they really wanted do (and which they seldom do). The other option the WA government is considering is using repellent devices. One of those technologies, the Shark Shield is already on the market and we sell these Shark Shields online and in our Woolloongabba store. We are actually experiencing an increase in sales of Shark Shields every time a diver has been killed.
Shark Shields are compact and lightweight personal units designed for freedivers, snorkellers, swimmers, surfers and scuba divers. The Shark Shield has seven hours of battery life and it is fitted to the lower leg with the supplied neoprene pouch. Attached to the pouch is an antenna which trails behind the user. For Scuba Divers and Surfers there are special Shark Shields available that can be mounted to a scuba tank or surf board.
But do Shark Shields actually work? We get a lot of people calling us to ask us whether these shark shields really work. Shark Shield are the only known repellent to sharks and that using some sort of safety device is probably better than none. However, if you are going to be swimming around spearing fish and take bait, the shark may be so determined to get this ready prey that it will still charge at it. Some people ask us if these electrical shockwaves actually harm people, but they don't because the field can't pass through bodily tissue. On the Shark Shield website they explain you all about this and how they work. They also include he research that proofs they work to scare away sharks.
In the ABC News 24 program on Sunday it was said that the shields are not widely sold yet, because of problems with making the technology last for prolonged use underwater. The fact is, the Shark Shields are selling so fast they have trouble keeping up with demand and as the biggest retailer of Shark Shields in Australia, we can assure you we never get them sent back because they stopped working. With the normal care of rinsing them after every use and not dropping them on hard surfaces, they will last a very long time.