Gen­tle shark re­pel­lent

6 Fa­ther and son to use rot­ting car­cass smell to pre­vent more at­tacks

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - BRONWYN DAVIDS

THE scent of dead rot­ting shark is about to hit an ocean near you and it’s bound to drive sharks on the hunt as far away from the wearer as pos­si­ble.

For­mer Wales- based fa­ther-and-son restau­ra­teurs, Collin and Si­mon Brooker, sold ev­ery­thing they owned to fund re­search into cre­at­ing Podi, an ac­tive shark re­pel­lent that reeks of dead shark but is not made of dead shark.

For Collin, it was im­por­tant to cre­ate a syn­thetic means of re­pelling sharks without re­sort­ing to killing more wildlife.

Collin, who was liv­ing in Bris­bane, Aus­tralia in 2014 when the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment sanc­tioned the culling of sharks af­ter a spate of fa­tal at­tacks, mostly on surfers, felt com­pelled to find a harm­less means of de­fend­ing hu­mans when they in­ter­acted with the wild species in their nat­u­ral el­e­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Collin, most shark re­pel­lents on the mar­ket, whether elec­tronic, sonic or mag­netic, work only in close prox­im­ity, when the shark is al­ready in con­fronta­tion mode and usu­ally speeding to­wards its quarry from be­hind – which is of­ten too late for eva­sive ac­tion to be taken.

Af­ter ex­ten­sive re­search, he found sharks have a height­ened sense of smell of up to 3km away and, al­though they are can­ni­bal­is­tic in that they kill and con­sume fresh sharks, they flee dead and rot­ting sharks.

With a sam­ple of de­com­pos­ing shark car­cass in hand, Collin’s UK-based part­ner and sci­ence co-or­di­na­tor Jane Fal­lows hired Welsh sci­en­tists to an­a­lyse the sam­ple, which they broke down.

The sci­en­tists were able to iden­tify six chem­i­cals which con­tain the key to repli­cat­ing the odi­ous scent.

Tri­als were con­ducted in Florida in the US and, once the re­pel­lent hit the wa­ter, an en­croach­ing shark veered away. Only the shark is re­pulsed by the stench, while other species such as fish and dol­phins carry on as usual.

“Be­cause we are fund­ing the re­search our­selves and sci­en­tists are very ex­pen­sive, we are 12 to 18 months away from find­ing the cor­rect com­bi­na­tions to cre­ate an ef­fec­tive tablet that can clear the wa­ter without harm­ing the an­i­mals,” said Collin.

Dur­ing their re­search they in­ter­viewed res­i­dents of Re­union Is­land whose fish­ing and tourism in­dus­tries have been wrecked by the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the Zam­bezi shark species.

But when they heard about sharks dis­rupt­ing the South African leg of the world surf- ing cham­pi­onships, they went to KwaZulu-Natal, where they in­ter­viewed mem­bers of the Sharks Board, which runs 14 ves­sels and crews to clear shark nets ev­ery­day.

Si­mon said they learnt that the shark nets not only led to the death of sharks, but also re­sulted in the death of other species such as tur­tles and dol­phins, many of which were al­ready on wildlife en­dan­gered lists.

The Brook­ers said min­i­mal im­pact and de­struc­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment and wildlife species were the core to their longterm busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity plan.

In or­der not to de­plete their out­set cap­i­tal, the pair launched a surf­ing gear brand called Seadog Sport, which will fund re­search and de­vel­op­ment of Podi and also act as spon­sor­ship for var­i­ous projects such as Waves for Change, who are in­volved in dis­abled sport as­sis­tance and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

They have also cre­ated 400 con­tain­ers with the help of SA Plas­tics which they hope to place on beaches, with mu­nic­i­pal­ity ap­proval, to help in col­lect­ing re­cy­clable de­bris on the beaches which usu­ally ends up in the sea, killing many species, said Si­mon.

The Brook­ers en­vi­sion the con­ser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and wildlife as a domino ef­fect that will sus­tain the tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­tries.

For de­tails see www.seadogsports.com.

PIC­TURE: TRACEY ADAMS/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

Collin and Si­mon Brooker have done re­search into a syn­thetic smell rem­i­nis­cent of rot­ting shark, which they say is a shark re­pel­lent. The two are mar­ket­ing the prod­uct in Cape Town.

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