A new electronic device that ‘annoys’ away sharks and prevents attacks has been approved for use by the Australian Navy.
The Shark Shield, which weighs 13.5 ounces (380 grams) and is small enough to fit into an adult’s palm, was invented after an Australian Navy diver was attacked last year.
Able seaman Paul de Gelder lost his right hand and right leg in an attack in Sydney Harbour in February 2009.
The Australian Navy has now approved use of the device for its divers following seven months of tests.
The device works by sending out electronic impulses that annoy sharks, effective to a range of eight metres.
Sharks have electro-receptors in their snouts which detect minute electrical impulses emitted by living creatures in the sea.
The Shark Shield emits pulses of greater intensity. The closer a shark moves towards the device the stronger the muscle spasms they experience – enough to stop their attack.
Once the shark leaves the vicinity it suffers no long-term effects.
The device is attached to a six-foot ( two-metre) antenna.
Grant Price, chairman of Adelaide-based Shark Shield, said: ‘The Navy tested our product under a variety of conditions for seven months and has found it meets all criteria to improve the safety of its divers.
‘Australia is known to have some of the most shark-populated waters on the planet, so what is seen to work here must have some international credibility.’
The company that manufactures the device, which is also called Shark Shield, hopes other commercial divers will now use it.
It is also on sale for members of the public to buy.
It costs £460 for divers and the surfboard version costs £360.