It’s a fear that many people have, but the worry of being bitten by a shark could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new wetsuit material.
Researchers from Flinders University have developed the new material, which they say can even withstand bites from Great White Sharks.
The team developed two types of protective fabrics that incorporate ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibres – often referred to as the ‘world’s strongest fibre’ – into standard neoprene.
To test their resistance, the researchers performed puncture and laceration tests in the lab, before throwing the materials into the water, where Great White Sharks proceeded to bite them.
Dr Charlie Huveneers, who led the study, said: “Our results showed that both fabrics tested may provide some protection against shark bite and could be used as part of a shark bite mitigation strategy.”
The White Sharks ranged in size from three to four metres, and had some pretty ferocious teeth on them.
Despite this, the materials were shown to offer much better protection than standard neoprene suits.
Dr Huveneers added: “We found that the new fabrics were more resistant to puncture, laceration, and bites from White Sharks than standard neoprene.”
The study comes shortly after the International Shark Attack File released statistics on shark attacks in 2018.
The statistics revealed that there were 130 cases of shark-human incidents last year, including 66 unprovoked attacks.
Meanwhile, five of these attacks were fatal – four of which were unprovoked.