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Do Shark Repellent Devices Really Work?

by Charlie Page

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With the increase in shark attacks and in the manufacturing of shark repellent devices over the past few years, many surfers want to know if these products really can keep them safe in the water. 

To begin with, if you are staying out of the water for fear of sharks, you should know that, while shark attacks have increased, they are still extremely rare. The fear has mainly been sparked by media and film, and has unfortunately left people very anxious about going into the ocean, which is very unfortunate. We’re going to take a look at a variety of different shark repellents in this article so that you can decide for yourself whether or not they are worth the purchase.


Electrical Shark Repellents


Electrical shark repellents work by emitting small electrical currents to disrupt the sensors found in shark snouts. These sensors are used to detect prey in the ocean, though when overly stimulated, sharks become annoyed and turn back.

The only scientifically tested and proven electrical shark repellent on the market today is the Shark Shield. A study at the University of Western Australia showed this to be effective against great whites and tiger sharks, although not in every encounter. While they aren’t completely effective, these are seemingly the best bet.


Magnetic Shark Repellents


Magnetic shark repellents also work by over-stimulating the snout of the shark. Sharkbanz is easily one of the most popular magnetic shark deterrents, and the bands are stylish and portable. They have also been proven effective in deterring tiger sharks and bull sharks, but not great whites. While promising to many scientists, these still need to be independently tested to make proper claims.


Acoustic Shark Repellents


SharkStopper is a different kind of shark repellent on the market that emits an array of different Orca calls that the company claims will repel sharks. This is because Orcas are killer whales that sit above sharks on the food chain.

This kind of technology isn’t brand new though. Many fish farmers utilize Orca sounds to protect their fish from seals. But often times, the seals end up outsmarting the devices when they realize the Orcas aren’t around, rendering them useless. There is a major possibility that sharks could figure this out as well, so these devices aren’t the most promising of the bunch.

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Spray Repellents


Anti Shark is one of the most popular spray repellents on the market. It utilizes dead shark tissue extract that is stuffed into an aerosol-like can. The theory is that sharks will stray away if they notice the smell of dead shark brothers and sisters floating around. 

While spray shark repellents could potentially buy you a bit of time before the plume of shark tissue disperses into the deep, they are probably the least convenient out of all the types of repellents available today, as you need to be able to unleash them before actually getting them to work.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you really change the color of your surfboard to deter sharks?


Photo credit: theinertia.com

Many surfers have begun to opt out from bright surfboard colors like red and yellow, and have switched to darker black and blue boards. The idea behind this switch is that sharks are colorblind and can only see different shades of grey. This means that if you have a brighter colored board, it will have a lighter shade of grey to a shark, and therefore become more noticeable and attractive. While a darker board will still be noticeable for any sharks roaming close by, the switch could potentially protect you from those scanning the distance for a meal.


Are shark attacks rare?


There is no doubt that there are far more dangerous things on this planet than sharks. We drive every day on the freeway where people are constantly getting in accidents. If you have the guts to take the 101 down to Malibu, you should have the guts to get in the water. Unlike car accidents, shark attacks are one in 3.7 million


Can shark repellents save me from shark attacks?

No shark repellent known to man is going to be 100% effective, as we have yet to find a safe and viable option for keeping sharks away from our precious shores. The biggest reason for this is that not enough tests have been executed. Shark repellents can, at best, reduce the risk of a possible shark attack. You must accept the fact that whenever you are in a shark’s territory, the risk will be much higher when you are paddling out a half mile from shore compared to chilling at the taco stand on the shoreline.


Should I buy a shark repellent?

If you want to have a possibly reduced risk of a shark attack, as well as more peace of mind when you are in the water, we would highly recommend getting one of these. The main thing that you need to keep in mind is that these haven’t all been tested equally. If you’re looking for the best bet, we would ask that you make sure you know the back end of the product you decide on.


What are some of the best ways to reduce the risk of a shark attack?

There are many ways sans shark repellent in which you can avoid an encounter with the ocean’s great predators. Here are some of the top ways according to researchers at Taronga Conservation Society:

  1. Try to swim or surf in groups rather than alone.
  2. Stay in water that is clear rather than murky water.
  3. Swim or surf only after sunrise and before sunset, as most sharks hunt at night.
  4. Keep an eye out when swimming through shallow kelp forests.
  5. Avoid wearing shiny objects when in the water. Sharks can likely mistake these objects for fish scales.

Don’t let the fear of sharks or any other creatures lurking in the oceans hold you back any longer. Go on a surf camp in Europe and surround yourself with friendly people that will make you feel comfortable and forget all about your worries. 

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