Everything Surfers Need To Know About Shark Repellent

Shark repellants for protection

Surfing is known as a popular extreme sport and it’s widely practiced in places such as America, Hawaii, Australia and Mexico.

Surfers want to experience waves in different places and the most popular destinations are in Mexico. But if you want to surf the best beaches in Mexico you have to be prepared for what’s in the water.

Surfers also put their lives on the line not only because of the massive waves they sometimes ride but also the sharks in the water.

When you go surfing you’re entering the sharks’ territory and their main instinct is to eat so they can survive.

So how exactly can surfers enjoy riding waves in shark-infested waters? The answer is a shark repellant.

What is Shark Repellant?

Shark repellent is essentially a term for any measures a surfer takes to fend off sharks. Since surfing has become more popular over the years, the shark repellent industry has expanded significantly throughout the 21st century.

Technology has paved the way for the development of gadgets and devices that are capable of keeping sharks away from humans. Therefore, there are many types of shark repellents on the market which are designed for professional or novice surfers.

Some products are specifically made for divers or occasional swimmers.

Like any sort of manmade protection (especially against animals) shark repellent isn’t 100% effective. But they will definitely make you feel more at ease especially if you surf spots in Mexico, South Africa, Florida and other shark-infested beaches.

How was Shark Repellant Invented?

Surfing using a shark repellent
Photo by 9092 immagini from Pixabay



The search for a shark repellent began in 1942 in the United States of America.

A doctor named Henry Field learned about a sea disaster in the Caribbean that struck fear into marine servicemen. It was the fear of shark attacks.

To solve this problem Dr. Henry Fields met with another doctor named Dr. Harold J. Coolridge who work for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). Dr. Henry wanted to discuss the possibilities of developing a chemical shark repellent.

Shortly thereafter an official request was made by the US Navy to the committee of medical research to develop the shark repellent.

Many researchers were involved in the project and there were myriads of formulas they tried & tested to develop a shark repellent product.

Shark Repellent Found At Last

After trying over 100 different substances and formulas which included common poisons, the research team found several possibilities.

After an entire year of field tests, the most effective repellent was copper acetate. The copper acetate proved 60% effective in deterring shark bites.

To create the repellent the copper acetate was mixed with black dye. The mixture was formed into a round disc that smelled like decaying shark when released in the water. The cake discs could be stored easily in three-inch boxes with metal screens.

These storage boxes allowed the repellent to be spread either manually or automatically when the cakes were submerged in water. These boxes could be attached to lifejackets, a belt, leg or arm of the swimmer.

The developed shark repellent was said to keep sharks away for at least seven hours.

This formula was known as Shark Chaser and was used in the Navy. It was rumored to protect NASA space equipment when it landed in the sea.

Over the years there have been many other developed technologies to create different types of shark repellents. Here we will go through the different types of shark repellents you can get.

5 Types of Shark Repellant

The market offers five different types of shark repellent technologies such as:
– Electric repellents
– Magnetic repellents
– Sound repellents
– Semiochemical repellents
– Visual repellents

These types of shark deterrents come in the form of spray cans, rubber bands, surf leashes, and wetsuits.

As mentioned before some of these products are best suited for surfers and others are developed to make it more comfortable for divers.

The most popular shark repellent on the market for surfers is Sharkbanz 2 as it uses no electricity, batteries or chemicals to repel a shark attack.

Sharkbanz 2 is a wrist band that emits magnetic waves that disrupt the shark’s electroreceptors.

Similar products are the NoShark and Modom shark leash products that also use magnetic waves to repel sharks. The only difference is it’s a leash that fits around your neck instead of your wrist.

Does Shark Repellant Really Work?

Surfing with shark repellant on
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

A shark has lateral lines running down each side of its body that allow the shark to detect vibrations in the water.

The small pores in the shark’s snout allow it to detect electrical pulses emitting from other creatures around it. Shark repellents are designed to interfere with these senses.

Shark Shield is an electric repellent and it’s known to be the only effective product on the market to deter attacks.

Shark Shield uses an electrical field created by the two-meter cords that trail behind a swimmer. For surfers, there’s a specific model that requires installation directly into the bottom of the surfboard.

Could Shark Sprays be the Answer?

Did you know that Batman had a repellent? It was called the bat shark repellent.

The idea for the Batman shark repellent was used in a movie in the 60s to fend off sharks. The bat spray was used on the sharks to get rid of them fast while the superhero was on his mission to save the world.

That being said: is it a real product? Can sprays really work to deter shark attacks?

Much like the cakes developed in the 40s to protect marines from shark attacks you can get the same product, only in aerosol form. It turns out sharks don’t like being around other dead sharks.

So a formula of decaying shark flesh is released to make it seem like there are dead sharks in the water. The sharks detect this scent which makes them leave the area.

These products prove to be the most effective and the advantage is they’re small enough to carry in a dive bag, a pocket or in your hand.

This makes it more convenient for surfers to use and you simply spray the repellent into the water which creates a temporary safe zone.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to surf will also protect you from shark attacks because you’ll be able to make fast counter-movements that could save your life.

So before you go surfing in Mexico take extra precautions and even surf training.

Then, equip yourself with sprays, magnetic bracelets or leashes before you go into the water.

Having these products with you while you surf will give you more peace of mind when you surf.

You will also have more fun and you’ll be at your best performance when catching those waves.

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