Hamish Jolly from Australia, presents the collective research and rationale behind finding a biological solution for a shark deterrent wetsuit at a TED Talk in Perth, Australia. In collaboration with scientists and wetsuit designers, Hamish and his friends came up with a new approach that uses our growing understanding of shark vision. You should watch the whole video, but at the very least skip to the 8:50 mark.
Even though the wetsuit was debuted last July, it is still an exciting prospect for the surfing community that we should follow more closely alongside the controversy surrounding Western Australia’s shark cull (which may or may not end April 30th). While the design aesthetic is far from normal (Ozzie Wright could pull it off), if the Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) wetsuit is further refined and proven to be effective over the next few years, then it might actually catch on and provide surfers ease of mind as well as an alternative for policymakers. It would take me a while to get used to, but I would prefer it to attaching one of those electronic beacons to my tail that cost as much as a new board.
“Who knows what ocean wear will look like in 2 years time, in 5 years time, or in 50 years time, but with this new thinking I’m guessing there’s a fair chance it won’t be black.” – Hamish Jolly
With only a few retailers listed on their site, market penetration is clearly in its infancy and demand is limited geographically to cold, sharky waters, however changes in ocean currents and water temperatures will affect shark migration patterns in the future and West Oz (and others) may not be the only hotspot(s) for long. As Hamish said, it is unclear what wetsuits will be like in the future… but I hope the evolution in design balances innovations in material sustainability in addition to mitigating impacts on marine life. Until this perfect wetsuit exists, I’ll continue to wear my O’neill RG8 (made of recycled scrap neoprene) and rely on the favorable odds here in California.