Scientists are a step closer to developing a potentially life-saving wetsuit, with research, funded by the NSW Government, showing new fabrics can help reduce the impact of shark bites.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall welcomes the results and said the study, being undertaken by Flinders University, is the perfect example of the NSW Government working hand-in-hand with leading researchers.
“This is exciting research and provides more evidence this wetsuit technology has the potential to save lives from shark bites, not just in NSW, but across the globe,” Mr Marshall said.
“We know the leading cause of death from shark bites is due to blood loss, so reducing blood loss by using a specially designed wetsuit could be the difference between life and death.”
Flinders University Associate Professor Charlie Huveneers said technological advances in fabric have allowed the development of stronger, lightweight alternatives that can be incorporated into traditional wetsuits.
“Through a variety of laboratory and field tests, we found that the new fabrics were more resistant to puncture, laceration, and shark bites than standard neoprene wetsuits,” Prof Huveneers said.
“More force was required to puncture the new fabrics, and cuts made to the new fabrics were smaller and shallower than those on standard neoprene.”
Prof Huveneers said White Sharks as large as four metres were used during the field tests, as it is the species responsible for the most deaths from shark bites.
“Although these fabrics may reduce blood loss resulting from a shark bite, further research is needed to determine if the reduction in damages to the wetsuit extends to human tissues and decreases injuries,” Prof Huveneers said.
Through the NSW Government’s Shark Management Strategy a grant of $90,000 was used to fund the research, which is due to be published later this year.