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Australians made 'Don't eat me' anti-shark wetsuit

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Staff writer | Friday July 19, 2013 9:30AM ET
Anti-shark wetsuitAn Australian company launched the world's first anti-shark wetsuit. Entrepreneurs are using new discoveries about the shark' eyesight.

Working together with the University of Western Australia's (UWA) Oceans Institute, Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson have developed wetsuits to protect divers and surfers from sharks.

"It's based on new breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for predatory sharks. We've been able to interpret that science and convert that into, basically, materials that create some confusion for sharks' visual systems," Anderson told AFP.

The blue and white Elude range, made for divers and snorkellers, uses research about sharks' perceptions of light and their colour blindness to hide you in the water column. The Diverter, made mainly for surfers, is based on what sharks perceive as danger signs in nature, with a bold black and white banding patten to imitate an unpalatable food item.

"Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals, prey that provide a signal that somehow says 'Don't eat me', and that has been manifest in a striped pattern," said UWA researcher Shaun Collin.

It is the culmination of a two-year research project funded by the Western Australia government following shark attacks in the state which claimed five lives in the year to July 2012.

Anderson and Jolly's company Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) licensed the technology to wetsuit maker Radiator, which opened pre-orders for the first suits with prices from Aus$429 ($392). Stickers using the Diverter striped pattern are also available for the underside of surfboards and other watercraft, with the research to be featured on National Geographic.

Testing of the designs using dummies and tiger sharks off Australia's west coast has been successful, with the marine predators gliding past SAMS patterns but savaging traditional black wetsuits.

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