Business Insider Edition

Surfers are putting eyes on the bottom of their boards to freak out sharks and stop themselves getting attacked

Bill Bostock , Business Insider US
 Aug 22, 2019, 07:11 PM
Two "Shark Eyes" stickers on the underside of a surfboard. The manufacturer says it makes the shark think it has lost the element of surprise.
Shark Eyes/Vimeo
  • Surfers are sticking two huge eyes to the undersides of their boards to deter great white sharks from attacking them.
  • Great whites commonly attack surfers. They are ambush predators who prefer to sneak up on prey from below or behind.
  • Shark Eyes, founded by surfer and shark attack survivor Shanan Worrall, produce the eyes, meant to make sharks think they have lost the element of surprise.
  • Other methods include wearing devices which emit electro-magnetic pulses which cause sharks to convulse when they get too close.
  • Great white sharks have been seen with increasing frequency around the coasts of the US in recent years due to the booming seal population.
  • For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

Surfers are sticking large eyes on the bottom of their surfboards to deter sharks from attacking them, as more and more sharks are sighted off the coast of the US.

The technique is one of several, listed by the Wall Street Journal, being used by surfers to stay safe from attacks, which are still extremely rare but can be fatal.

Great whites are ambush predators, and researchers believe that they are less likely to attack if they believe they have been seen - hence the eyes.

The east and west coasts of the US have seen an influx of great white sharks in recent years. At least 300 great whites have been spotted off the East Coast, and 2,400 great white sharks are said to be patrolling waters to the west of the US.

Australian surfer Shanan Worrall founded Shark Eyes in 2017 after he was involved in three great white sharks attacks, and lost a friend to one.

His company's product consists of two large eye stickers which can be attached to surfboards, diving gear, and surfing clothing. It "intends to make the shark think it's been spotted" which deters it from attacking without the element of surprise, according to Worrall.

Worrall cites surfer safety studies and the natural world as his inspiration. Many animals have developed eye-shaped markings to ward off ambush predators.

Great white sharks are well-known ambush predators, and surfers believe they're less likely to be attacked if the shark thinks it's been spotted.
Shark Eyes/Vimeo

A number of other deterrents are used by surfers to ward-off sharks.

Surfers are adding stripes to the legs of their wetsuits, which they hope will make them look less like seals, the main prey for great whites.

Another safety device, Ocean Guardian's SharkShield device, emits a electrical field is meant to trigger spasms in a shark's electrical receptors if it gets within range.

The manufactures of Shark Eyes and SharkShield stress that there is no fail-safe defense against a shark attack.

The boom in great whites off the US coast in recent years is thanks to the rebounding population of grey seals, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

East coast surfer A.J. Salerno told the Wall Street Journal: "We've been bullied out of the water by the sharks."

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