The wetsuit that repels sharks

Shark attacks have been rising in Australia – prompting one company to design a wetsuit that could prevent deaths by making surfers and swimmers look less like the shark’s prey.

Australia is surrounded by water – and making the most of the country’s coastline is a big part of Australian culture.

But surfers and swimmers have to share this playground with sharks, including some of the most dangerous species.

The number of attacks has risen recently, and several surfers have been killed off the coast of Western Australia – with sharks believed to have mistaken the surfers for seals. These attacks have prompted one Perth company, Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (Sams), to design a new wetsuit they think could help to reduce the likelihood of attacks.

The banded white-and-black wetsuit is inspired by recent discoveries of sharks sensory systems, and how relatively poor their eyesight is. The hope is that the suit will break up the silhouette of the surfer, making it look less like that of a seal, and making the shark less likely to carry out an exploratory bite.

Will it work? Some marine scientists have raised doubts about the suit’s efficacy. While the company says the suit has performed well in tests, they do caution that the suit is research in progress.

In the video above, BBC Future spoke to Sams’ founder Craig Anderson.

This article was updated on 14 April following feedback from shark scientists.

Join 500,000+ Future fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram

If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday.