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Hand-Held Electronic Spear Shocks Sharks Away From Divers And Surfers

Drum lines and shark nets are commonplace measures that attempt to keep ocean predators from swimmers.  

While those safety measures are in place at some beaches, they can disrupt the habits of marine wildlife, while not preventing shark attacks entirely.

Just three weeks ago, two people were bitten by a shark in the Whitsundays. A woman and a young girl were bitten by the animal but thankfully, their injuries were not life-threatening.

READ MORE: Woman And Young Child Injured In Whitsundays Shark Attack

In early December 2018, a 36-year-old surfer was mauled by a shark near Scott Head Beach. He suffered a severe injury below his keen on his right leg. In October, a man at a nudist beach narrowly escaped a shark by punching it, before swimming to safety.

READ MORE: Man At Nudist Beach Escapes Shark Attack By Throwing A Punch

Australia makes up for almost a third of the world's shark attacks. Recent research named Australia the nation with the second highest number of shark attacks in the world, second only to the US.

READ MORE: Australia Ranked Second Worldwide For Shark Attacks

Shark Guard Repellent Equipment
The eSPEAR could help deter a shark from swimmers. Image: Ocean Guardian

New technology developed by Ocean Guardian claims to have taken a major step forward in dismantling this problem.

Together with Flinders University and the University of Western Australia, the technology group has researched and developed a non-invasive way to protect divers, surfers and fishers from the dangers of a shark attack.

Not-for-profit conservation society Sea Shepherd supports the use of an electric current to deter sharks as it is a non-invasive method.

"It is something that I endorse personally and it's something that Sea Shepherd backs because it is a non-lethal alternative," Natalie Banks from Sea Shepherd said.

The device is a small and lightweight object called the eSPEAR. It folds up and can be attached to a drive belt, swimsuit or cozzy. With the click of a button, the device expands from its compact form to a larger spear.

The spear consists of two electrodes that create an electrical field of between one and 2.5 metres around the user. When a shark comes within metres of the device, the electric current triggers muscle spasms in the electric receptors in their snout.

eSPEAR Technology At Work
Image: Ocean Guardian

This discomfort causes the shark to swim away from the person using it and according to university research, is effective in 90 percent of cases.

"The results show that nine out of 10 times, the shark shield was effective at deterring white sharks," Shaun Collin director of University of Western Australia Oceans Institute said.

Ocean Guardian CEO Lindsay Lyon said the device was specifically designed to be shark-friendly and offer an alternative to current shark deterrent methods.

Shark Guard Repellent Equipment
Divers swimming with the eSPEAR. Image: Ocean Guardian

"We have proven personal technology and believe that the new beach barrier technology has the capability to replace inhumane shark nets around the world whilst protecting ocean users from the risk of a shark attack,” Lyon said.

The eSPEAR was launched on Tuesday via a crowdfunding campaign. Ocean Guardian is looking to partner with an Australian University to develop the technology further.

The eSPEAR will set you back $299 each.

Featured Image: Ocean Guardian.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au