Shark nets are often used to protect swimmers and surfers from shark attacks, but often they not only fail to do their job but also pose a deadly threat to marine life. In a bid to come up with a safer and more effective alternative, a team of scientists in South Africa has developed an eco-friendly shark barrier system based on magnets.
Called SharkSafe Barrier, the novel invention consists of magnets — known for their ability to repel shark species — installed in pipes made of recyclable plastic. The system’s design mimics natural kelp forests, which many animals like seals use to hide from the predatory jaws of sharks.
What’s also great about the magnetic system is that it doesn’t affect after animal species. While it acts as a deterrent for sharks, other marine species can swim right through it.
“These magnets don’t need a power source — they are like fridge magnets, but on steroids. We have one per meter to create a magnetic field. It is shark-specific. It has no effect on other animals — in fact, it creates an artificial reef that increases the local biomass,’ explains marine biologist Dr. Sara Andreotti.
After successfully trialing the system, the team now hopes to get support from the South African government to scale the SharkSafe Barrier solution to many more beach areas around the world that prone to shark attacks.