Shark StopTM is a remarkable new protective fabric for use
in wetsuits to protect surfers from shark-bites. This fabric has been
developed over the past three years by Haydon Burford in conjunction with
Andrew Fox from Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions and tested by Dr Charlie Huveneers
from the Flinders University.
The Shark Stop journey started one evening when we were
sitting around the dinner table discussing the worrying number of Shark bites
occurring on the north coast of NSW region. Haydons partner Liz Strang said
‘how good would it be if we could develop a wetsuit that the sharks couldn’t
bite through’ and the ball was set in motion.
Haydon spent 3 years looking for suitable materials that he
could combine to produce the fabric and then to find funding to support the
project. His friend Andrew Fox recommended talking with Charlie Huuveneers who
is the head researcher into Sharks at the Flinders University and conducts much
of his research aboard Andrew’s boat. The funding was secured through a grant
from the Department of Primary Industries.
The fabric, Shark StopTM has been put through
rigorous testing with live shark bites as well as in the laboratory at Flinders
University and has performed extremely well. These results have been peer
reviewed by a scientific panel and have been to published by the DPI. (see link below)This research
has found that the fabric can withstand the considerable force of the shark
bite, while sustaining minimal pin-prick size punctures on only the most severe
bite attacks, to prevent the catastrophic blood loss and loss of limbs that
cause death in many shark attacks.
It could be said that this fabric is a wholly South
Australian Invention as the inventor Haydon Burford was born in South Australia
and started surfing at 17 he has had a long association with surfing and owned
a number of Surf Shops in Adelaide before moving up to the North Coast of NSW.
His partner Liz, who came up with the original concept is also South
Australian. Andrew Fox is the son of Rodney Fox whose shark journey started
when he was attacked by a great white shark in 1963 while skin-diving off Aldinga
Beach SA. It is through their business, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions, based in
Port Lincoln, that all the research has been conducted in conjunction with
Flinders University and Dr Charlie Huveneers.
Haydon says he developed
this fabric because “someone had to do something”