In some parts of the world, people such as surfers do face the risk of being bitten by sharks. However, according to recent research, lightweight wetsuit fabrics can significantly reduce the severity of damage in the event of such an attack.
The study, carried out by scientists at Flinders University in Australia, was designed to assess 10 variants of two protective fabrics. Made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber (UHMWPE) and suitable for traditional neoprene, the idea is that wetsuits made from this composite will be more resistant to bite.
To prove this, the researchers first applied neoprene samples with different types of fabric. They then wrap the material around the biting load sensor sandwiched between the foam-covered steel plate, then throw the wrapped sensor into the water of Australia’s Neptune Islands Marine Park, and then watch the local great white shark bite on it.
Scientists chose great white sharks because they are the shark species that attacks humans the most without cause. It is estimated that the length of the animals attacking the test bench is between 3 and 4 meters (10 to 13 feet). In addition, scientists conducted laboratory-based puncture and tear tests on samples coated with neoprene. In the laboratory and in the ocean, this material performs well.
Charlie Huveneers, associate professor at Flinders University, said: “We found that this new fabric is more resistant to punctures, scratches and shark bites than regular neoprene. Both tested fabrics provide some protection against shark bites and can be used as part of a strategy to mitigate shark bites. “