Learn more about Shark Attack Mitigation System Technology
SMS (Shark Mitigation Systems) General Manager Simon O’Sullivan and SMS Managing Director Craig Anderson answer our questions about the SAMSTM technology behind our SAMS Carbon Triwetsuit.
What are the main features of the SAMSTM technology in a wetsuit?
Shark Attack Mitigation Systems, or SAMSTM technology has been developed from new knowledge of predatory shark visual systems. Based on the knowledge of how shark see, two distinct disruptive visual patterns have been designed that present the user or wearer as either unlike normal shark prey (like a seal) or to distort the shape of the wearer to appear more cryptic. The key to the SAMSTM technology lies in the development of the design which uses specific contrast, colour, size and shape which take into account the position of the user in the water column and the distance that a shark is likely to perceive the user.
Where did you get the idea of developing such a system?
The company’s two co-founders, Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson, both from science backgrounds and avid ocean users, were alarmed at the number of fatal shark attacks occurring particularly in their home state of Western Australia, and how little was known about shark’s visual systems. This led to them discovering two world renowned shark neurologists at The University of Western Australia’s, Oceans Institute. After commissioning an independent research study with the Oceans Institute, to study and report at a molecular level shark’s visual systems, they found for the first time how these large predatory actually see colour and shapes. Applying this knowledge, designs were created to apply to marine apparel and ocean craft to potentially reduce the risk of shark attack.
How is the mitigations system in the wetsuit working?
We currently have Licence Agreements in place with several wetsuit brands. Development partner, Radiator Wetsuits, based out of Perth, Western Australia and arena swimwear, the global swimwear company based in Italy have incorporated the SAMSTM visual technology into surfing and diving wetsuits, and Triathlon Wetsuits respectively. Licence Agreements are in place with global surfboard brand, Rusty, and many other Australian surfboard brands. SAMSTM continues to seek premium brands to partner with in the various Recreational water sports segments, whilst also pursuing Commercial, Industrial and Military applications of the shark deterrent technology.
Which advantages do you see especially for triathletes (professionals vs age-grouper)?
Incorporating the SAMSTM visual technology into wetsuits, including Triathlon wetsuits, gives the wearer the confidence to enter the ocean knowing they have an extra level of protection against the potential and real risk of shark attack. The technology comes at little or no incremental cost to a standard wetsuit, but brings with it potentially lifesaving protection.
Are there new products/technologies planned with arena in near future?
arena has been a great partner to date, and they continue to lead innovation in the Triathlon and Open Water Swimming market. Together we are looking at some possible new colour and pattern combinations in the SAMSTM/Carbon Triathlon Wetsuit, as well as a SAMSTM application to their Powerskin Range.
How high or serious are the dangers of shark attacks?
There is a rising number of shark attacks globally, with some regions particularly impacted, and there are a number of theories of why this is occurring. If you enter the water where sharks are known to be present or migrate, then you are entering the sharks domain. Sharks are wild and unpredictable creatures, but we don’t believe that they are the man-hunters that they are sometimes labelled. Attacks occurs most likely from a case of mistaken identity, the sharks think we are something that we are not, like a seal or a turtle, their normal prey. Our non-invasive visual technology confuses the shark as to what they are seeing, allowing you more time to evacuate the water. We do not recommend remaining in the water in the presence of sharks.
Tell us: why is it a must have for any triathlete?
If you are a Triathlete that is training and competing in the ocean, where the potential for shark attack is real, and for little or no extra cost using a premium performance Triathlon wetsuit that can reduce your risk of shark attack without compromising your performance, why wouldn’t you use one?