Outdoors

Shark Stop wetsuit designed to thwart great whites

Shark Stop wetsuit designed to...
The Shark Stop wetsuit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign
The Shark Stop wetsuit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign
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The Shark Stop wetsuit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign
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The Shark Stop wetsuit is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign
The Shark Stop wetsuit is available in both Surf and Dive models
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The Shark Stop wetsuit is available in both Surf and Dive models

Back in 2019, we heard how scientists at Australia's Flinders University were developing a lightweight material that might someday be used in shark-bite-resistant wetsuits. Well, that day has arrived, and such a suit is now on Kickstarter.

Previously tested on floats that were bitten by great white sharks, the woven material is made of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene nanofibers, and is designed to be used in conjunction with traditional neoprene.

Not only is it claimed to be highly puncture-, cut- and abrasion-resistant, but it also reportedly has a strength-to-weight ratio which is 50 percent higher than that of Kevlar, and eight to 15 times greater than steel. It's already utilized in products such as ballistic shields.

The Shark Stop wetsuit is available in both Surf and Dive models
The Shark Stop wetsuit is available in both Surf and Dive models

For the Shark Stop wetsuit – manufactured by Flinders spinoff company Shark Stop – sheets of the material are applied to either side of bio-based neoprene, in key body areas where the most serious shark bites tend to occur (such as around the femoral artery). The resulting garment is said to be not much heavier than a conventional neoprene wetsuit, while remaining quite flexible.

For the current crowdfunding campaign, the Shark Stop wetsuit is being offered in surf- and diving-specific models, and in thicknesses ranging from 2 to 7 mm. Along with their shark-thwarting functionality, some of both models' other features include a thigh pocket for keys, a stainless steel zipper, knee pads, and wear patches on the shoulders, elbows and seat.

Assuming they reach production, a pledge of AUD$795 (about $US569) will get you one.

Sources: Kickstarter, Shark Stop

13 comments
13 comments
guzmanchinky
Very cool!
Trylon
The weight penalty should only exist on land. UHMWPE floats in water. Maybe they should consider making a UHMWPE mesh suit (minus the neoprene) for surfers worried about shark attacks.
paul314
Unless it's really stiff (which would be bad for actual wearing), someone who is attacked will still be in a world of hurt from the crushing force of a bite, but better that than lose a limb and liters of blood. I hope no one goes out thinking they're invulnerable because they're wearing it.
George Kania
Good idea, but as @paul314 says, it would still be battling c. 4000psi - owww! Plus if Sharkey decides to pull you under to the depths anyway, you're a bit stuffed ;-( Still, if it saves a single life it will have been worth it !
Brian M
@paul314,
"from the crushing force of a bite, but better that than lose a limb and liters of blood"

Not so sure about that, a crush injury from a large shark bite can still result in massive internal bleeding, if severe could still effectively severe the limb.
Although might well help as a protection from smaller 'accidental' attacks - but from a full blown great white attack?

Wonder if any volunteers have tested the suits in real conditions!
Expanded Viewpoint
As soon as I read the part of making the suit more puncture resistant, I knew this is not so great an idea, because the bite force can easily break a limb, causing great pain and immobilizing the body. Since sharks have a VERY sensitive array of organs to detect other living creatures, THAT is what we should be targeting! Use magnetic, acoustic and electrical signals to overload and interfere with their ability to home in on prey, and the sharks will move on to something else, something they are familiar with. Avoid the bites, don't try to lessen their severity. If there is some chemical compound in nature that sharks avoid, that could be used as a deterrent also. We know that bodily fluids attract them, what puts them off?
Christian Lassen
Not sure if this is even worth it for the average surfer. The risk of attack by great white is so low already. I can see it being more useful for research scuba divers who're swimming in the food chain with seals and sea-lions regularly
mmusheen
The bite force is what I was thinking about too. Although I've read that most initial bites are more exploratory than full crunch down, I guess like a nip from a dog? Time will tell....
Erik
Why are they focusing so much on great whites they rarely attack humans.
Signguy
This is nonsense. They should be focusing on generating a electrical field that will completely confused the animal so it won't bite them or even come near them. This has been proven in the past to be very effective, as they are extremely sensitive to electrical fields.
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