You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bold methods to deter sharks from surfers

AAP logoAAP 2/12/2016 Sarah McPhee

Surfers are being urged to wear camouflage wetsuits, use deterrents and ride boards with high-contrast markings to reduce the risk of shark attack.

The call follows the dropping of drum lines on the NSW mid north coast on Friday after a 65-year-old man was bitten at Seven Mile Beach by a great white while surfing.

It's the latest in a string of official measures to combat attacks, with a controversial shark net trial fast-tracked at Ballina last month.

However, Southern Cross University lecturer Dr Daniel Bucher says the animals and the state government shouldn't be the only ones paying the price.

He's encouraging surfers to purchase Shark Shield attachments that emit a localised electromagnetic field causing highly sensitive receptors in a shark's snout to spasm.

He said the device, combined with high-contrast stripes on surfboards, sends a strong message to a shark that there is "a potentially dangerous animal sitting on this board".

"The person who is choosing to undertake that activity ... is taking some personal responsibility to reduce the risk without asking taxpayers, governments or the animals themselves to pay the price," Dr Bucher told an Australian Science Media Centre briefing on Wednesday.

"High-contrast markings on certain animals are a signal that they are dangerous, poisonous, distasteful."

Lionfish, banded sea snakes and blue-ringed octopus all have distinct markings and are among the most deadly marine animals in the world.

Australian surfer Mick Fanning last year switched up his predominantly yellow boards after he was attacked by a great white while competing in the J-Bay Open in South Africa.

"'I've got heaps of yellow boards so I've just been adding some black stripes because I heard that works," he said in a YouTube video posted ahead of the 2015 Billabong Pro.

"For the rest of the year, I'm going to be going the blue and black and hopefully that sort of deters them."

Fanning won the J-Bay Open this year on a surfboard with a blue underside.

The idea has also been adapted to wetsuit design by Perth-based business Shark Mitigation Systems in collaboration with the University of Western Australia - home to Australia's other 'hot spot' of shark activity.

The company's camouflage blue and striped designs can be printed onto wetsuits and surfboards to hide surfers or make them appear unlike typical shark prey.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon