Looking to the Future of Shark Attack Prevention methods
As in any sphere of activity and research, time allows for testing and learning, so methods will be refined or even abandoned, based on efficacity and new methods brought into being. It is always difficult to predict what will happen in the future, but this blog will try to take an educated guess at what could likely happen in the coming years. There will be several methods that appear in this blog that also appeared in the previous issue: this is because many of these instruments are still in their infancy and will likely be caused to change over the next few decades. it is my personal view that there will be an increase in the use of personal shark attack prevention devices : i.e. “Shark Shields”, shark repellent or futuristic wet suit designs. i think however, that there will be further developments with area protection methods as well as those that seek to provide individual protection.
A lot of work is being done in researching possible new designs for wet suits with the intention of deterring interest. One such design seeks to mimic the colour patterns on Sea snakes i.e The Black Banded Sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) a.k.a the Yellow lipped Sea Krait.
Alternating a black to white to black colour scheme to break up the form of the user or possibly deter the shark using naturally occurring deterrent. It has been recently found that shark vision is based on green, so the visual capability is slightly limited. If this is indeed the case this could further aid in the design of wet suits that either breakup the outline or camouflages the user effectively. https://www.wired.com/2013/08/wetsuits-that-use-science-to-deter-shark-attacks/
Smart buoys have already been implemented in many areas like New South Wales, Australia, with recent reports citing that 50 more will implemented along the New South Wales coastlines of Australia. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/01/shark-nets-to-be-trialled-again-on-new-south-wales-north-coast-beaches. The reason u bring them up again will be discussed towards the latter end of this blog in more depth. As the technology becomes more accessible to communities there will be an increased use of “Smart” buoys along coastlines globally where sharks are known to be present.
Necromones are an interesting concept and have proven to be quite successful. however this is not the end of necessary research in the use of this method. Shark repellents have a wide range of possible applications not just the “grenade-like” style for personal use. Necromones to my knowledge have not been systematically researched in their application, means of delivery and levels of effectiveness. Such matters will require well-planned research as potentially there maybe issues of reliability. in that connection for instance, extensive use of necromones could result in populations becoming conditioned to the presence of the chemical with a related possibility that the “flight” response will be reduced.
Increased trust in Technology
The future of shark attack prevention methods is undoubtedly going to revolve around the increased use of technology, whether in revision of past techniques or the development of more modern methods. Increased use of drone technology, with increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence and deployable emergency kit. Sonar buoys would be used to spot shark-sized objects as they pass near.
Use of applications/ “apps”- we are all familiar with these thanks to our mobile devices. with the increase in tagging of sharks, Smart buoys, Sonar buoys and artificially intelligent drones this may lead to populations using apps on their mobile devices which can alert them to shark activity in the local vicinity. Doubled with devices on wrists, ankles and surf boards that may alert surfers or swimmers in the ocean to vacate the area on basis of alarm or notification of a shark presence in the local vicinity. Tagging does come with some limitations . unfortunately, it is impossible to tag every shark in the world and this will always be the most limiting factor in the tagging efforts. In these circumstances the probability is the use of artificial intelligence in drones is probably more effective as a safety strategy. The artificial intelligence should continually learn and not be limited by the necessity of prior tagging of the specimen in order to alert local populations.
I believe that there should be an increase in education of the risks involved in entering sea areas that are visited by large marine organisms, not just simply sharks. There are many risks involved in using the oceans such as riptides and dangerous marine organisms e.g. the Box Jelly fish (Cubozoa). Education in the possible risks and ways of properly dealing with them is vital. There are many websites which offer guidance on what to do or what not to do in trying to limit the possibility of danger. In a more overall sense education needs to our use of shores and whether our priorities are indeed correct. Is it our “right” it use the seas and oceans without risk to ourselves? Is it even possible? There has to be an understanding that there are indeed no fail-safe methods to prevent 100% of shark attacks. There must be an acceptance of varying degrees of risk and any response to a shark attack has to be measured, reasonable and take into account the interests of marine fauna just as much as ourselves.
There is no argument that these methods will all survive the test of time- some will be improved, other will be replaced and some methods that have not even been considered at this current time will be devised and implemented. The future is always uncertain but by considering how we act in the present we can try and make reasonable assumptions for the foreseeable future. In my personal opinion there will be a fusion of early shark attack prevention methods, with modern technology coupled with completely new tactics and combination of tactics. The incorporation of past and new will provide a much wider and effective collaboration of safety measures. The use of multiple techniques will provide a widespread spread prevention network undoubtedly on the bases of combined area and person-centred methods. These should provide greater assurance to user communities; however I emphasise my earlier comment on the importance of education and associated required changes in attitude.