Shark Repellent: Smell of Death

The anti-shark tech takes another step, but is this one going to work?

Have you ever smelled a dead body? It is just the most terrible thing you will experience and your own body will start reacting and heaving immediately when you smell it.

There is also something else at play, something that affects our minds on a much deeper level, something that klaxons ‘mortality’ in our heads, and that concept is enough to make your skin crawl and your mind go down the deepest mineshaft of depression and confusion.

It’s obviously a human condition, the sense of mortality, but animals also smell, and the smell of other dead animals might have some sort of similar effect. Let’s examine.

We have come to realise that all the shark deterrents out there at the moment are not foolproof. Whether they work with electromagnetic waves that disturb the sensitive Ampullae of Lorenzini, or whether they are battery operated, work with magnetics or any other such special combination of said forces, it is hard to totally have trust in any of these items. Wearing a watch with a powerful magnet, or an anklet pulsing electromagnetic waves, might just not be enough to slow down a hungry 5-meter Great White shark, no matter how much you want to believe in.

Shark ‘smell of death’ as a repellent

The ‘smell of death’ has been proven to be a tremendous deterrent in sharks, and, in particular, in Great White sharks. There is currently a surge of research going down into this discovery, and how it can be effectively used as a shark deterrent for surfers in particular.

Currently, the theory is that if a shark dies, no other shark will come near it due to the smell of death. Scientists have identified that particular structures of the smell of death, and have synthetically reproduced it. The different chemical make-ups, it is reported, are all completely natural and biodegradable.

The product is set to be a gel that releases during a surf session and is strong enough for a shark to notice it up to 1000 meters away, and then to stay away.

It’s an interesting concept and one that might work or evolve into something else. People are still working on different shark mitigation systems worldwide, and eventually, something should come through, be it a breakthrough like this or a combination of technologies.

Putting it to the test

For now, nothing has proven to be infallible, and even one of the great adventurers, Bear Grylls, does not have faith in any of the inventions. There is very little that will be able to stop a 750 kg adult male Great White approaching at speed with his mouth open, with a ravenous hunger pinging his brain to attack.

When there is a belief that something is really working, what would be the best method to test it? That would most likely be in Reunion Island, one of the sharkiest spots in the world per kilometre of ocean frontage. The first anti-shark company to run an event at St Leu will get the advantage.

Let’s see how this develops.