New Wetsuit To Deter Shark Attacks?

Jamie O'Brien

Jamie O’Brien looking like a tasty snack in his wetsuit. Photo: Nelly/SPL

So if wetsuits are made to look less like a seal, we as surfers are going to be safer from shark attacks? That's the theory…who's gonna test it out though?

As reported on

A research team from the University of Western Australia and University of Queensland has found that sharks are highly visual animals but are probably colour blind. It has found the animals see colours in shades of grey. UWA assistant professor Nathan Hart says this information could prove useful.

“Sharks are highly visual animals but the world they see lacks colour and will appear as shades of grey like we see when we watch a black and white movie,” he said. “It may be possible to use this knowledge to change the way a shark reacts to certain objects. “It may also lead to better design of equipment such as wetsuits and surfboards that reduce the risk of shark attack.”

The need is urgent after five fatal shark attacks in WA in less than a year.

UWA’s Professor Shaun Collin says they plan to create a wetsuit, using particular patterns, that would make the wearer look unappealing to sharks. “It makes the wearer appear obnoxious, poisonous or unattractive to the shark, somewhat like a sea snake,” said. “Some species do not typically target these types of patterns on other animals.” The team is also investigating another method to prevent attacks from White Pointers, the breed believed to be responsible for the majority of attacks off the West Australian coast.

Professor Collin says they’re working on a wetsuit that would make the wearer look less like a seal, the species’ favourite food. “White pointers generally attack from below so with a lighter background some of their food sources, such as seals, cast a very distinct and high contrast silhouette,” he said.