Researchers have gone back to the material drawing board and instead of repellent (i.e. strange, zebra-like patterns) scientists at Flinders University in Australia are looking at stronger fabric that could help surfers, divers and other ocean adventurers avoid serious blood loss – or bleeding out – in case of a severe bite.
The researchers have released a paper on the material and tested nine variants, according to reports, of two separate fabrics. The materials blend “ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibers” into traditional neoprene. That molecular weight poly is being described by researchers as being 10 times stronger than steel and 1.5 times stronger than Kevlar (the stuff bullet-proof vests are made of for law enforcement officials).
Great whites were of course used to test the material because, according to research, they account for some 41 percent of attacks (and 34 percent of fatalities in Oz).
“We found that the new fabrics were more resistant to puncture, laceration, and bites from white sharks than standard neoprene,” Charlie Huveneers, associate professor with the Southern Shark Ecology Group at Flinders, told media. “More force was required to puncture the new fabrics compared to control fabrics (laboratory-based tests), and cuts made to the new fabrics were smaller and shallower than those on standard neoprene from both types of test, i.e. laboratory and field tests.”
Scientists are still studying the fabric to see how it works as a preventative measure for tissue damage and other issues. “Our results showed that both fabrics tested may provide some protection against shark bites and could be used as part of a shark bite mitigation strategy,” Huveneers said.
You can read the full paper, here.