A shark can pick up a human heart beating close by so it’s helpful to have a deterrent system handy when swimming in ocean waters where they roam. This summer, 61-year-old distance swimmer Diana Nyad’s team plans to use a system called Shark Shield during her attempt to swim the 100-odd miles from Cuba to the Florida Keys. The tech isn’t new, but it will be put to the test like never before.
“It pulses a bit like an electric fence,” said Martin Grace, general manager for the Australia-based company Shark Shield. “The shark detects that, doesn’t like it, and you’ll see the skin shudder in the shark. It will have a bit of a look around and then go away.”
Australian Susie Maroney successfully swam the Cuba-Florida route in 1997, but had assistance from a protective shark cage. In June, swimmer Penny Palfrey set a long-distance world record for an unassisted 67-mile marathon between two Cayman islands. Her escort boat was equipped with a Shark Shield.
For her attempt on the record, Nyad said in a statement to the press that members of her team will accompany her in kayaks, dragging Shark Shields under the water. Much has been reported about Nyad’s preparations, but some confusion remains about what the Shark Shield system is, and what it’s not.