Lonely Planet Writer

An invisible ocean barrier has been invented in Australia in a bid to prevent shark attacks

An Australian company is hoping to try and end the problem of shark attacks at beaches using invisible electromagnetic barriers. Shark Shield’s Ocean Guardian would replace shark nets and drum lines with modern technology to keep the ocean’s most fierce-some predator at bay.

Great white shark Image by Ruth Petzold/Getty Images

Shark attacks are incredibly rare but every fatal one that does happen tends to make international headlines (precisely because it is so unusual). Australia, because of its lengthy coastline, high tourism numbers, and its general love affair with the sea has become known as the “shark attack capital of the world”. However, Shark Shield are hoping they can change all that with the introduction of their barriers. The shield is completely harmless to sharks but will, they hope, keep them well away from beaches where they might encounter humans.

Shark Shield’s Ocean Guardian hopes to prevent shark attacks. Image by Shark Shield

Lindsay Lyon, the company’s CEO, told Lonely Planet: “the new Ocean Guardian uses an innovative metamaterial transducer to produce a powerful electromagnetic field so that when a shark comes within approximately fifty metres, the strong electromagnetic pulses emitted cause the shark to experience muscle spasms.” He said: “this does not harm the shark in any way, but merely causes it to experience a high level of discomfort. From testing, the closer the shark is to the Shark Shield field, the more spasms occur in the sharks’ snouts, which results in it turning away from the electronic field.”

The Ocean Guardian in action. Image by Shark Shield

They believe their solution is much more environmentally-friendly than other options used to keep sharks at bay like nets and drum lines. Every year, these more basic protections kill sharks as well as turtles, whales, seals, and dolphins that are unfortunate enough to get caught up in them. The company is currently trying to raise funds so that they can try out the technology on a beach and test its effectiveness in keeping sharks away.