Gentle shark repellent
6 Father and son to use rotting carcass smell to prevent more attacks
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.
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.