Saturday, February 28, 2009

Electronic shark deterrent may become compulsory for police divers

POLICE divers may be ordered to always use the world's only electronic shark deterrent - credited with forcing a great white to release a scuba diver it was eating.

The state's police divers have been equipped with Shark Shields - which emit an electric impulse - for more than a year but it is not compulsory to use them.

"Assessments are made before each dive, taking into account the water and weather and location," a police spokesman said. "However NSW police have now instigated a policy review of the use of the shield. compulsory use may be one of the issues under revue."

The spokesman said one issue the divers had with the shield - a small black box with an antennae attached - is that in confined spaces underwater, such as searching a submerged vehicle, it could "zap the divers themselves."

Shark phobia has seen a massive jump in demand for the Australian-made Shark Shield's unique protection against the marine predators, its makers said yesterday.

SeaChange Technology co-founder Rod Hartley said his company had fielded "amazing numbers" of requests for information from dive and surf shops across Australia, with a 200 per cent increase in inquiries in the past two months.

He said the Shark Shield - invented in South Africa - works by emitting exceptionally strong electrical impulses that are intensely painful to sharks.


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