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Shark Technology Science

Rethinking the Wetsuit 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the two-words:-jet-pack dept.
symbolset writes "Apparently Australians have come up with the brilliant idea: if you don't want to be eaten by a shark, it's best to not go swimming in shark-infested waters in a seal costume. 'Scientists from the University of Western Australia, with designers Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS), have unveiled two new wetsuits that they say could save lives in the water. Based on a breakthrough discovery that sharks are colour-blind, one wetsuit, labelled the "Elude," is designed to camouflage a swimmer or diver in the sea. At the other extreme, the "Diverter" sports bold white and dark-blue stripes, and is intended to mirror nature's warning signs to ward off any potential shark attack.'"
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Rethinking the Wetsuit

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  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @12:57PM (#44337405) Homepage Journal

    it looks just like the ship camo the Navy used in WW2, but since it's applied to sharks instead of the Japanese, we deserve a patent!

    • by maroberts (15852)

      it looks just like the ship camo the Navy used in WW2, but since it's applied to sharks instead of the Japanese, we deserve a patent!

      Also, both the mixed blues and dazzle pattern were common camouflage patterns in WW2, so it is questionable what can be patented here.

      • by godel_56 (1287256)

        it looks just like the ship camo the Navy used in WW2, but since it's applied to sharks instead of the Japanese, we deserve a patent!

        Also, both the mixed blues and dazzle pattern were common camouflage patterns in WW2, so it is questionable what can be patented here.

        The stripey pattern is not to prevent the wearer from being seen (and neither was the WWI version, come to that), it's to fool the shark into thinking it's something that tastes bad and is toxic.

        • The naval camouflage patterns were not meant to make a ship invisible. They were meant to reduce the frequency and effectiveness of attacks upon the ships by making them either less tempting targets by the known challenges of tracking and targeting such a ship or to make the attack itself more difficult by creating a situation where the size, shape, direction, and even orientation of the ship difficult to ascertain. Imagine attempting to track a zig-zagging ship where you couldn't even be certain which en

      • And the WW2 dazzle patterns were used by European navies in WW1 before that....

    • by jkflying (2190798)

      Drug companies do this, find a new use for a drug to extend a patent.

  • Because they work so well for Zebras

  • "Duke: Well, our chefs have been experimenting for many years to find a sauce most likely to tempt the crocodile. In the past, we've concentrated on a fish based sauce, but this year, we are reverting to a simple bernaise.

    Loothesom: The British team are worried because Olympic regulations allow only the competitor's heads to be sauced. Gavin Morolowe...

    Morolowe: Yes, well, I mean, (clears throat) you know, four years ago, everyone knew the Italians were coating the insides of their legs with bolinaise, the

  • And how did they calculate their failure rate? ie "8 out of 10 divers managed to swim unharmed through a pack of sharks..."
    • And how did they calculate their failure rate? ie "8 out of 10 divers managed to swim unharmed through a pack of sharks..."

      So you take the two that do get attacked, and dress one in the special suit, then send them both out. The suit that comes back is the winner.

      • by Megane (129182)
        In the Secret Agent Diving School, they're not dive buddies, they're dive CHUMS! Remember, you don't have to out-swim the shark, you just have to out-swim the other guy being chased by the shark!
        • by Lotana (842533)

          When I was learning to SCUBA dive, we jokingly been told the following procedure when we spot a large shark:

          "Stab your buddy and swim away".

  • You can see where their mindset is: "We have converted that into patents"...

    Lets save lives, but be damn sure that we get paid for every single one.

    Why is taxpayer-funded scientific research being patented in the first place? I've heard the argument before: Australian taxpayers paid for it, and deserve to profit from it. But what about American taxpayers, British taxpayers, Canadian taxpayers, etc? Is there no taxpayer-funded research done in any of those countries that could be considered a fair trade

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Not one problem at all. Initiate a global standard for a particular pattern wet suit, both colour and banding. Have governments around the world place dummies of those suits, that smell like people but are electrified and tainted with a painful but not lethal toxin.

      Place these baits in target zones to be protected. Sharks swim up 'see the suit' bite into it, get a nasty electric shock and a left with a horrid taste. Sharks soon learn to avoid suits of that colour and pattern.

      No patents to be paid and f

  • Another advantage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @01:27PM (#44337557) Homepage Journal

    I can point to another advantage of the striped suit.

    As a recreational diver, one occasionally drops a piece of equipment in the water. Bold, striped colors would make it much easier to find something (a fin, say) laying on the bottom.

    And to respond to a previous poster, they covered pots of chum (chopped fish) in the proposed experimental suit to see how sharks would react. The video clearly shows sharks attacking a square-dotted suit while veering away from the striped suit.

    Seems like an innovation discovered by research and experimental method. I have no problem with them having a patent on this.

  • Minimal danger (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EdZ (755139) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @01:34PM (#44337575)
    From TFA:

    We're here on the West Australian coast, which is now the deadliest coast in the world

    Yes, the deadliest coast in the world. 16 attacks (not all fatal) in... a decade. And how many millions swim off the coast every year? Even if you take Australia as a whole, on average the number of people killed by sharks per year is: one [taronga.org.au]
    If you want to avoid being attacked by a shark, I'd like to sell you this tiger^h^h^h^h^h shark repelling rock. It's much cheaper than a brand new wetsuit, and statistically equally as effective!

    • by Ambvai (1106941)
      "This thing is as dangerous as a mosquito."
      "I was worried it was as dangerous as a shark or a lion."
      "But sharks and lions only kill a few people. Mosquitoes kill 2 million people each year."
      "One of us needs our threat level assessment recalibrated, and I don’t know if it’s her or me."
    • Re:Minimal danger (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:14PM (#44338269)

      Yes, the deadliest coast in the world. 16 attacks (not all fatal) in... a decade. And how many millions swim off the coast every year? Even if you take Australia as a whole, on average the number of people killed by sharks per year is: one

      This is a conditional probability - you need to account for the degree of exposure to see how that overall fatality rate relates to a specific individual. Since shark attacks are exceedingly rare on land, the overall fatality rate is skewed down by the overwhelming number of hours spent on land (which contributes 0 probability of shark attack). This is different from things like mosquitos, where (nearly) everyone is at risk of a mosquito bite all the time. The overall probability of being killed by a shark is

      p = [ (hours on land)*(zero) + (hours on water)*(chance of fatal shark attack) ] / (hours total)

      So say the entire population (including everyone who's landlocked) goes to the beach an average of 2 times a year and spends a total of 30 minutes in the water, and suffers 1 shark fatality per year. But the average surfer goes to the beach 3 times a week and spends 2 hours in the water each time. Then the average fatality rate for surfers is equivalent to 312 fatalities per year for the entire population. In other words, if the entire population spent as much time in the water as surfers do, you'd expect to see 312 shark fatalities per year. (The actual rate is lower since a disproportionate number of hours in the water is contributed by these surfers vs. casual beachgoing swimmers.)

      Same thing happens for police officers, who are frequently criticized for complaining about the dangerous situations they encounter when their overall fatality rate is lower than for construction workers. But construction workers are exposed to their danger 40 hours a week. As best as I could determine, police officers spend only 10% of their time on patrol, and probably only 1% of that time is in what would be considered a dangerous situation (chasing and apprehending a resisting suspect). So whereas construction workers are exposed to a constant level of moderate risk, police officers face a low risk 99.9% of the time, then an incredibly high risk the other 0.1% of the time. .999*(low risk) + .001*(very high risk) = average low risk. But since their overall fatality rate is slightly below construction workers, that means that 0.1% of the time they're facing a risk of death hundreds of times higher than what construction workers face. That's what they're complaining about.

      • Mod parent up.

        When used improperly, statistics are a dangerous tool.

        • by manu0601 (2221348)

          When used improperly, statistics are a dangerous tool.

          One could do statistics on that :-)

      • by martinQblank (1138267) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @07:59PM (#44339505)
        [Scene: Interior. A New York apartment. There is a knock at the door.]
        Woman: [speaking through closed door] Yes?
        Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Arlsburgerhhh?
        Woman: Who?
        Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Johannesburrrr?
        Woman: Who is it?
        Voice: [pause] Flowers.
        Woman: Flowers for whom?
        Voice: [long pause] Plumber, ma'am.
        Woman: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark, aren't you?
        Voice: [pause] Candygram.
        Woman: Candygram, my foot! You get out of here before I call the police! You're the shark, and you know it!
        Voice: Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.
        Woman: A dolphin? Well... Okay. [opens door]
        [Huge latex and foam-rubber shark head lunges through open door, chomps down on woman's head, and drags her out of the apartment, as Jaws attack music plays.]

        Source: wikipedia
    • by quantaman (517394)

      From TFA:

      We're here on the West Australian coast, which is now the deadliest coast in the world

      Yes, the deadliest coast in the world. 16 attacks (not all fatal) in... a decade. And how many millions swim off the coast every year? Even if you take Australia as a whole, on average the number of people killed by sharks per year is: one [taronga.org.au]

      If you want to avoid being attacked by a shark, I'd like to sell you this tiger^h^h^h^h^h shark repelling rock. It's much cheaper than a brand new wetsuit, and statistically equally as effective!

      Also from TFA
      The five fatal attacks in WA waters in just under 12 months, which earned the state the unwelcome tag of shark attack capital of the world, prompted the research into the suits more than two years ago.

      You seem to be working from different figures.

      That being said I'd agree that most people overestimate the risk from shark, but they also overestimate the risk of being mauled by a bear. But if I go to an area with a lot of aggressive bears that risk can get a lot higher so it's a really good idea

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      Yes, the deadliest coast in the world. 16 attacks (not all fatal) in... a decade. And how many millions swim off the coast every year?

      Not to mention illegal immigrants boats that sink with all their passengers.

  • Honest question. Why use wetsuits in WA at all? I've lived in Perth, WA, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to put on something extra since it's so damn hot all the time.

    And yes, sharks.... but they are less annoying/dangerous than the local Christians who writes letters to the editor in the local newspaper, explaining why sharks should be exterminated because they're not part of God's plan.
    • Honest question. Why use wetsuits in WA at all? I've lived in Perth, WA, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to put on something extra since it's so damn hot all the time.

      And I was going to answer; are you nuts it's bloody cold.
      WA is the abbreviation for Washington State (U.S.), only going to Google Earth (I really did) to see where in Washington Perth was did I find resolution.

      To a recent post of mine on /. were replies of "only in the U.S. was it true", not the rest of the world as I had implied...sigh...

      And yes, sharks.... but they are less annoying/dangerous than the local Christians who writes letters to the editor in the local newspaper, explaining why sharks should be exterminated because they're not part of God's plan.

      And to think they waste good fish scraps for chum.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @02:53PM (#44337873)
    ..be signing up for beta testing. No thankee, even with a free ocean cruise and diving thrown in.
  • by erice (13380) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @03:17PM (#44337987) Homepage

    A surfer paddling on the surface is back lit by the sun. A shadow against the sun is going to appear black no matter what color the suit.

    This isn't a problem for scuba diving. However, shark attacks on scuba divers are quite rare even without special wet suits. Sharks' MO is to watch for seals near the surface and lunge upward to catch them. Scuba divers don't linger on the surface and under water they don't look anything like seals.

  • ""We have converted that into patents that we know will hide [wearers] or present wearers as not shark food."
    They won't feed the sharks but it seems feeding the patent trolls is just as bad....
  • even seals are ordering them

  • The camo suit looks remarkably like the costume that the late Neal Pozner designed for Aquaman [flickr.com] back in the 80s.
  • Silhouette (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @05:27PM (#44338679)

    Whoever came up with this doesn't know much about sharks.

    Most sharks and other carnivorous fish hunt from below, looking upward for their prey's silhouette against the bright and shiny sea surface. Doesn't matter what color your wetsuit is, it's not going to break up your silhouette.

    In fact, the reason prey fish have silvery sides and bellies is to blend in with the shiny sea surface. You could try a reflective websuit, I suppose, but then you'd look even more like a fish.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whoever came up with this doesn't know much about sharks.

      But they seem to understand marketing.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Wetsuit makers have been diddling around and experimenting with this for a long time, though. I know nothing about the specifics of why and wherefore, but I've been seeing suits with color schemes clearly intended to break the pattern for a long time. Sadly, I've never been atop a surfboard, but I come from Santa Cruz where surfing is something of an obsession for many. As a poor child with nothing to do and no money to do it with, I used to just ride around and go into stores and see what they were up to.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Wetsuit makers have been diddling around and experimenting with this for a long time, though. I know nothing about the specifics of why and wherefore, but I've been seeing suits with color schemes clearly intended to break the pattern for a long time. Sadly, I've never been atop a surfboard, but I come from Santa Cruz where surfing is something of an obsession for many. As a poor child with nothing to do and no money to do it with, I used to just ride around and go into stores and see what they were up to.

  • My diving instructor told me about it.

    I don't know if it works, or not, but it's not a radical new idea.

  • here [xkcd.com], fixed [xkcd.com] for you [xkcd.com].
    It seems that Randall Munroe is obsessed not only with velociraptors, but also with sharks.

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