Julien will remember all his life that day when he thought he had taken all the precautions before surfing, but it was not enough. Victim of a shark attack on a shore of Reunion Island, he escaped by a miracle: the shark-bulldog bit his board, leaving a monstrous jaw print on it. The surfer returns to the water today with a board equipped with an electric device against sharks: “This system is made for surfboards. There isn’t one for body boards, but we managed to install one on a body board, which is a first”, he explains to the magazine “1:15 p.m. on Sunday” (replay).
“The principle is very simple: a battery at the front with an On / Off system, an antenna under the board with two electrodes which emit an electric field of about a meter around me, specifies who is responsible for testing the bodyboards. A stimuli is produced in the water. Sharks are very sensitive to electrical emissions thanks to their receptors in their snout. They run away when they feel this electric field. And I can’t go into the water without a system that works under my board. “ This equipment will be compulsory for surfing, especially on the west coast of Reunion, subject to deadly attacks.
“The efficiency is evaluated at 70%”
The tester then goes to Shark Safety Center (CSR) in Saint-Leu, seaside resort and surf spot in this French department and overseas region, to give their first impressions after the tests. There are two different technologies. One works perfectly, but the other does not: “There are a lot of constraints due to electricity. As soon as you pass a wave, you take a jerk, and it’s downright to let go of the board”, Julien reports. Not a great question of comfort, but it still repels sharks, as tests carried out in New Caledonia have shown.
“A group of scientists from the center went there to do a battery of bulldog shark tests in very turbid water and with a bait under the board, explains Christophe Mulquin, project manager at CSR. We see in these images the bestiau, which is about three meters, with its jaw wide open. He leaves immediately by turning around. Another goes towards the board with the two electrodes while approaching the bait. And he suddenly changes course. The efficiency is evaluated at 70%. The protocol of this test: a basin with forty sharks-bulldogs, in very cloudy water and with a bait between the legs. In Reunion, we do not go out in these conditions! If a Bulldog approaches in predation mode, it is estimated that, when it takes the maximum discharge from the equipment at two feet, it will turn around. “