Could shark barriers be coming to Cape Cod beaches in the future?
It could be a safety option for local communities down the road after researchers recently found that their shark barrier successfully deterred great white sharks along the Cape.
The nonprofit O’Seas Conservation Foundation tested its shark barrier technology, “The Exclusion Barrier,” this fall off of Chatham’s Monomoy Island — a hotbed for shark activity along the Cape.
The 100-foot long physical barrier with electromagnetism “successfully manipulated the sharks’ swim patterns” in the Shark Cove area, according to Craig O’Connell, the executive director of O’Seas Conservation Foundation.
“Of the more than a dozen sharks, not a single one swam through the barrier,” O’Connell told the Herald. “We were able to show how this is a very reliable technology, and that this technology shows great promise for the future.”
He described the barrier as an eco-friendly shark deterrent system with a series of evenly-spaced black pipes filled with electro-magnetic stimuli.
The piping is a visual barrier to sharks, while the electro-magnetic stimuli serves as a more close-range shark deterrent that can push sharks away from an area.
In the future, the shark barrier will hopefully be deployed at local beaches, O’Connell said.
“Anywhere where people want that peace of mind, where families want to keep their kids safe,” he added.
Sharks have bitten people along the Cape over the last decade, including the first fatal shark bite in 82 years. Two surfers recently had a close call with a great white.
In Australia and South Africa, local communities have implemented shark culls using shark nets and drumlines at beaches, but the shark nets have been extremely lethal, according to O’Connell — whose original goal was to find an eco-friendly replacement for shark nets.
“I’ve always wanted to develop an alternative to protect marine organisms,” he said, noting that the shark nets have led to the local extinction of several shark species, and that the nets have killed dolphins, whales, sea turtles and other species.
One key test for the shark barrier off the Cape was whether it could handle the large swells and breaking waves. The barrier was able to withstand swells of up to 7 feet, breaking waves of up to 5 feet, and strong currents.
O’Seas Conservation Foundation teamed up with project advocate Cape Cod Ocean Community on the shark barrier trials.
“It has been inspiring to partner with Dr. O’Connell on this extremely critical issue for Cape Cod and the South Shore of Massachusetts,” said Heather Lewis-Doyle, co-founder and chair of Cape Cod Ocean Community. “His relentless pursuit to make the waters safer for those whose life compels them to continue to recreate and educate the world of the value of eco-friendly seas, particularly our youth is beyond admirable.”
Source: Orange County Register