New Sonic Safety Devices
Posted by Scott Zornig, 2 September 2014
The SBCSA has an unwritten rule that we do not endorse products. We make an exception for ocean safety products as long as the item does not also make the marathon swimmer faster, warmer, colder, buoyant, increase endurance or cause harm to the environment. I recently was introduced to a new technology sold by two different companies. These companies are called Shark Stopper and NoBite and they both make acoustic shark deterrent systems.
This innovative technology emits sound waves that mimic what sharks are afraid of (ie, Orca Whales, large pod of Dolphins etc). These unpleasant, but natural ocean sounds keep sharks away from the swimmer. At the same time, it has no effect on any other marine life.
Based on scientific research, the concept behind these has been proven to work naturally. In the same way that sharks detect and avoid harm in the wild, they find the sound waves emitted by either product disturbing….so they keep their distance.
The sharks’ best sense is hearing. Since sound travels up to five times faster underwater than in air, Sonic camouflage technology has a wide effective range, creating a sonic buffer around the swimmer of about 100 feet (30m). This is father than the distance represented by manufacturers of the electronic shark deterents.
At this point in time, they have two styles….the larger type can be attached to a kayak/boat and pulled along next to the swimmer. The second option is a device worn around the wrist or ankle of the swimmer.
I was on a relay in early August where we swam from Santa Barbara Island to Catalina Island. We used the technology (attached to the kayak) and did not see any sharks. Of course, this does not mean it was successful. On the other hand, if we had seen a shark closer than the 100 foot protection zone, I would likely be bashing the product right now or not writing about it. The owners of one of the two companies are so confident in their technology that they are offering a $1,000,000 guarantee. They recently announced that they will provide up to $1,000,000 to anybody who gets bitten by a shark while wearing their product as it’s intended to be used. They seem to have a lot of confidence.
Now the not so good news. Most marathon swimming organizations allow anti shark devices to be attached to a kayak or boat. They do not allow these types of devices to be tethered to the swimmer. So how will the marathon swimming community vote on a wrist or ankle style device which looks like a watch? Most marathon swimming organizations allow a swimmer to wear a watch, but not if it has GPS. Remember, GPS makes a swimmer faster. If you have an opinion, please go to the Marathon Swimmers Forum and start a thread. Your input will help the leaders of the different marathon swimming organizations and the Marathon Swimmers Federation decide on anti-shark devices worn on the wrist or ankle
Here is the good news….even if the marathon swim organizations voted against the wrist or ankle version, there is certainly no reason why you can’t wear them during your training swims. Better safe than sorry. If you would like more information visit SharkStopper.com and ORCAv1.com