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Home > Natural Resources

Sharks Repelled by Electropositive Allow

NOAA research on sharks shows electropositive alloy altered the swimming patterns of individual sharks and deterred feeding of groups of sharks.

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An estimated 11 to 13 million sharks are caught worldwide as bycatch each year, sometimes more than the targeted fish species. Sharks generally have slow growth and reproductive rates and late sexual maturity. These factors result in an inability of shark populations to support high rates of fishing mortality, or slow population recovery. There is concern among scientists and fishery resource managers that severe reductions in elasmobranch populations could restructure marine ecosystems.

A recent study by NOAA scientists and colleagues on captive juvenile sandbar sharks showed the presence of an electropositive alloy, in this case palladium neodymium, clearly altered the swimming patterns of individual animals and temporarily deterred feeding in groups of sharks. Rare earth metals have previously been reported to deter spiny dogfish from attacking bait due to interactions with the shark’s electroreceptive system, which detects weak electric fields including those generated by their prey. Electric fields generated by electropositive alloys are believed to deter or repel sharks by overloading their sensory systems.

"Individual sandbar sharks would generally not approach the metal ingots closer than about 24 inches, nor attack pieces of cut bait suspended within approximately 12 inches," said Richard Brill, a research scientist at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and head of the Cooperative Marine Education and Research (CMER) Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

"This study clearly shows the alloy has the potential to repel sharks from pelagic longline fishing gear so they are not caught as bycatch, but the optimal size and shape of the alloy and other factors needs to be determined. This is a promising step."

Up to now, electronic devices capable of repelling sharks have been large and not practical for use on longline fishing gear. The current project was undertaken to determine if small ingots of a relatively inexpensive electropositive alloy were repulsive to sharks under controlled laboratory conditions. If repulsion occurs consistently in the lab, the next step would be to conduct field trials.

READ MORE at ocean.com



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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