In a heartening development for ocean enthusiasts and the nation alike, shark barriers designed in South Africa are gaining global recognition. Crafted by marine biologists at the University of Stellenbosch and produced in the Western Cape, these barriers are now being utilised in the Bahamas.
Spearheaded by Dr. Sara Andreotti, the director and chief operations officer of the SharkSafe Barrier, these barriers are being lauded as a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional shark nets. Unlike shark nets, which tragically contribute to the deaths of thousands of sharks and other marine creatures annually, the SharkSafe Barrier offers a promising solution.
The SharkSafe Barrier represents a groundbreaking eco-friendly solution designed to protect both people and sharks. It utilises a combination of large marine seaweeds for visual deterrence and magnetic impulses for a physiological barrier, proven to discourage shark passage. The technology results from extensive scientific research and development led by experts in shark behavior and marine engineering, offering a unique and modular design adaptable to various installation sites. Notably, the innovative approach not only effectively manages shark movements but also minimises potential harm to other marine animals, contributing to the overall health of the natural environment.
The development of the SharkSafe Barrier commenced in 2012 in South Africa and has withstood the challenges posed by Great White Sharks and rugged seas in the region; it's deemed suitable for deployment worldwide. The technology has been officially patented through Stellenbosch University’s innovation hub, Innovus, with additional tests conducted in the Bahamas and Reunion Island.
Following its successful implementation in the Bahamas, the SharkSafe Barrier is slated for deployment in Bitou (Plettenberg Bay), a popular tourist destination that experienced two shark-related fatalities within three months last year.
Notably, these barriers, measuring 30 meters in length, boast a remarkable durability of 20 years in the water, requiring minimal maintenance. Furthermore, marine life can thrive on them, forming an artificial reef—a dual benefit that enhances ocean safety and fosters a positive environment for sea creatures.
The South African-designed shark barriers represent a groundbreaking solution that not only enhances ocean safety for humans but also champions the crucial protection of marine life, particularly sharks, through innovative and sustainable measures.