There's good reason why sharks are the most disagreeable of nature's beasties. They've been the apex predator in the oceans of the world for around 450 million years, the shark had taken on its current shape long before land vertebrates existed.

Given such an extraordinarily long evolution that makes them three times older than the dinosaurs, it's little wonder sharks have honed their craft to perfection, and are so exceedingly good at finding and taking what they want ... and why it is particularly unpleasant for the human beings who encounter them.

As with on-the-job terrorists, the chances of encountering a shark are actually quite small, but the fear far outweighs the risk. The five-year-average for worldwide shark attacks is 84 per year, resulting in an average of six deaths per annum.

So the reality is that 13 out of every 14 shark attacks are not fatal, but media coverage and the psychological terror we have of getting eaten alive grossly distorts the rarity and survivability of shark attacks.

Despite the comforting statistics, the thought that you can lose an arm or a leg before you realize what happened greatly reduces the enjoyment of swimming in the ocean, because unlike most predators, you almost never see a shark coming – they hit like a truck without warning, and those rows of razor-sharp teeth are designed to keep hold of what they sink into.

Shark repellent technology has been around for more than 20 years, with research beginning in South Africa in the 1990s, based on creating an electrical field that overwhelms a shark's highly sensitive electroreceptors (the ampullae of Lorenzini) and forces the shark to retreat.

Originally marketed as Shark Shield, Ocean Guardian's patented technology consists of two electrodes which, when submerged, create a powerful three-dimensional electrical field.

When a shark comes within a few meters of your Ocean Guardian product, the strong electrical pulses emitted by the device cause the shark to experience safe but unbearable spasms in their electrical receptors and they turn away, just as humans might do to a very bright light in the dark.

The Ocean Guardian BOAT01 is the largest device available using the Shark Shield shark deterrent system and is designed specifically for swimming from a boat or jetty. Previously, the technology has only been deployed on personal protection in the water for divers and surfers, but has recently been created on larger platforms designed for boat and jetty swimming (BOAT01) and to enable fishermen to get their catch back to safety without it being hijacked by a shark (FISH01).

The new BOAT01 is based on the proven design of the Ocean Guardian FREEDOM7 dive product and provides a large and powerful protective swimming area approximately 8 meters (26 ft) deep and 6 meters (20 ft) in diameter.

Powered by either the internal Lithium battery or directly from the vessel, it's possible to daisy chain up to four devices to create a much larger "virtual net." Each BOAT01 device retails for US$3,000 (or AUD 3,500). The initial rush on the new device overwhelmed supply, but as of the date of publishing this article, the Australian head office now has stocks of more than 4,000 devices.

The Western Australian Government is offering a rebate of AUD 200 to Western Australian residents that purchase a scientifically-proven and approved personal shark deterrent device. To date only two products have been approved and they are both from Ocean Guardian.

The video below has more on the technology.

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