by Meg Mitchell Moore

SharkPOD Takes Technology Under Water

Jun 15, 2001 2 mins
Data Center

WITH THEIR RAZOR-sharp teeth and those wide, eerie smiles, sharks are easily the most feared creatures of the ocean. But for scuba divers, sharks aren’t just characters in a Steven Spielberg film?they’re a real hazard on the job.

Several years ago, the Natal Sharks Board, a South Africa-based organization formed to protect beach users in an attack-prone resort area of the country, decided to do something about it. So it developed the technology for the SharkPOD Diver Unit. The device consists of three parts: a main body that attaches to the diver’s air cylinder and two electrodes that attach to one fin and over the shoulder. The electrodes create an electronic field around the diver that repels sharks. The whole thing looks a bit like a transistor radio on steroids.

SharkPOD earned its 15 minutes of fame during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, when divers used the device to protect swimmers during the triathlon. But it’s cumbersome and expensive, weighing in at 5 kilograms and costing approximately $399. Now a company in southern Australia called SeaChange Technology is making the devices smaller (500 grams) and cheaper ($240). The point here is that the garden-variety swimmer (albeit one with money to spend) will be able to protect herself in dangerous waters. The product is in the final design stage. The Florida Museum of Natural History points out that beachgoers are more likely to be injured and killed on land while driving to the beach than by sharks in the water. Still, better safe than eaten alive.