The shark shields go up at the Margaret River Pro
The next stop on the WSL Championship Tour is the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, beginning on March 29th. It was only a few years ago that the South-west region of Western Australia experienced a shark attack cluster - a sharp spike in attacks, many of which were fatal.
In response the WSL have collaborated with Western Australian company Shark Shield to kit out all their PWCs with electronic shark deterent devices.
Shark Shield make a range of devices for SCUBA divers, spearfishers, and surfers. The device the WSL has chosen is the Freedom+ Surf, which is comprised of two sticker thin decal antenna that work in concert to generate an electromagnetic field that repels sharks.
During the Margaret River Pro the same technology will be used except the stickers will be on the bottom of PWCs.
Tom Carroll displays the thin decal of the Shark Shield
"It's exactly the same technology as we'd have on a board," says Shark Shield CEO, Lyndsay Lyon, "but stuck on the bottom surface of the jet skis. It'll work exactly the same way."
"We know that jet skis themselves don't always scare off sharks," explains Lyon, "especially when they're in attack mode."
"So, worst case scenario is there is an incident or even just an inquisitive shark, then Shark Shield technology can get it out of the immediate area."
"It's a simple and cheap solution, and it works."
On that note, conversation veered toward WA's recent state election, which Lyon followed very closely. "One of Labor's promises was that if it got in it'd provide a $200 rebate for scientifically proven shark deterents," says Lyon.
A fortnight ago the Labor government won in a landlside victory.
"The wording of that promise is important," identifies Lyon ."Scientifically proven. Shark Shield are the only device on the market that's undergone independent scientific testing and the technology has been proven to work."
"You can't throw those words around without expecting a visit from Consumer Affairs or the ombudsman."
So there you have it, WA surfers. Not only do you get piece of mind from what's lurking below but you save an extra $200.
As long as the politicians keep their promise, of course.
The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro starts on March 29th.