Shark deterrent passes the test

CONSUMER watchdog Choice has assessed the growing market and found only one electronic shark deterrent made the grade.

In an industry riddled with dubious claims and untested products, the organisation said only the Australian-made Shark Shield, at $749 per unit, had been independently proven to effectively deter sharks from biting.

Choice author Chris Doyle said the device worked by creating an electrical field along a two-metre cord that trailed behind the wearer.

"For divers and swimmers, the device is wrapped around the ankle, while for surfers and kayaks there's a different model that requires installation directly onto a board," he wrote.

He warned the product did not work 100% of the time.

"The most recent study of the device by scientists at the University of Western Australia found it prevented great whites and tiger sharks from attacking most of the time, but it wasn't always effective," Mr Doyle wrote.

"An earlier study by the South Australian Research and Development Institute also found the device was effective in deterring great whites, but noted it didn't "deter or repel this species in all situations, nor did it repel all individuals".

The makers of other electronic devices claimed their products had encouraging results but with no evidence of extensive independent testing.

The same went for magnetic shark deterrents, aerosol repellents and a contraption that mimicked whale calls and other "special frequency" sounds to keep the predators at bay.

Shark Shield's makers said the product was used by the Australian Navy, as well as professionals and amateurs in ocean sports.

Choice warned none of the devices were fool proof.

"If fear of a shark attack is stopping you from entering the water, then forking out for a personal shark deterrent may provide some peace of mind," Mr Doyle wrote. "But be aware of their limitations - many devices haven't undergone independent testing, and no device will protect you in all circumstances."


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