Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Shark Shield Review

No, not a review of Shark Shield's actual effectiveness, hopefully that day will never come, but how I have come to terms with and adapted it to suit mat riding.
I had my first session using it on Sunday at the old home break as conditions are still a bit iffy here at the bay. I really just wanted to find out if it would impact negatively on the mat riding experience so I just whacked it on my right ankle and hit the the waves which were not too bad for awhile. A little technical information first for your edification.

Shark Shield emits a protective electrical field via its antenna. The unique wave form elliptical field only affects free swimming sharks and to a minor degree rays and skates. The field generated by the Shark Shield is detected by the shark through its sensory receptors known as Ampullae of Lorenzini, situated on the snout of all predatory sharks. The unique and unfamiliar pulsing sensation emitted by the Shark Shield does not replicate that given off by a fish and does not attract sharks to an area.

Battery pack lifeNominal 300 charges
Storage TemperatureBetween 0C – 60C (32F – 140F)
Operating TemperatureBetween 12C – 40C (53.6F – 104F) Lower temperatures will reduce the operating time
Dimensions of Main Unit (without Antenna)80mm L x 140mm W x 35mm H (3.15” x 5.51” x 1.5”)
Maximum Operating Depth45 meters (148 feet)
Weight (unit only)335 grams (11.8 oz)
Dry Weight (Complete)950 grams (2.09lb)
Unit Operating Time6-7 hours
In water weight (Complete)69 grams (2.4oz)
Protective Field Strength

As you have probably noted, on dry land, the whole caboodle including power module and antenna weighs in at a fairly hefty 950 grams (2.09 lbs). So, initially, I was a little concerned I was going to feel like I had a lead weight on my leg and that I was dragging a large bit of rope along as well. However, I was heartened by the additional information that the weight of the power module itself was only 335 grams (11.8 ounces) and that in the water the displacement weight of the whole unit including the antenna drops dramatically to 69 grams (2.4 ounces).
I am able to report that although I was aware I had something extra at the end of my leg, I pretty well forgot about it pretty quickly except for when the antenna would touch my ankle and give me a momentary less than pleasant electronic massage. This occurred rather more often than I would be willing to put up with in the long term so some measure to resolve this was needed. Coincidentally and ultimately contributing to the resolution of this measure, a SUP rider happened to turn up at the break also and blow me down if he didn't have a Shark Shield onboard too! I happened to mention that the bloody thing kept booting me and he told me that he had seen divers run the antenna through a hole in their fins in order to alleviate this tendency.

So, today, preferring not to drill a hole in one of my Duck Feet, I whizzed down to the local hardware store before I hit the beach and purchased a couple of 4.8 mm cable ties as I preferred the idea of a loose fitting guide to control the movement of the antenna whilst still allowing it plenty of free movement as I kicked. Keeping in mind the important fact that the shield only works effectively whilst submerged, I used the knife to slice a small cut through the outside top vertical of one of my Duck Feet and with difficulty fed the cable tie through. 
Placing the tie here means that when I am lying on a mat the antenna should remain submerged under the fin and pretty effectively out of the way when I am kicking as it has a tendency to sink. I was able to test the modification as I enjoyed a pleasant and cautiously comfortable little right alone until a couple of local longboarders eventually joined me. It took them a little while to notice what I was wearing and they were rather happy with the fact and keen to keep in close company with me.
"What's that you ask?"
"Oh, yes of course. You want to know if the modification worked?"
Yep, it sure did resulting in a dramatic reduction in the number of times I received a boot. Twice only in fact, which I can happily put up with, so it looks like the shield will become a permanent part of this South Coast of Oz surf mat rider's kit!
Postscript: Interestingly, I just received a pair of the new Voit Duck feet fins. As soon as I pulled one out of the box it was immediately apparent how much softer and pliable they are going to be. They are going to be far easier on the old tootsies and it will be very interesting to compare their performance with my current pair. I am going to have to apply the cable tie modification to one of them first though!


  1. Is there a skate/ray congregation area where you live? somewhere shallow and clear where you can watch their reactions to the sharkshield next to a bloody piece of fish? Would be a cool experiment... I like fishing off my surfmats and kneeboards but sometimes I cant shake that sharky feeling and it keeps me from fishing the deep drop-offs where the big fish are...

  2. looks good to me Robin, much extra drag?

  3. Definitely a little bit but not enough to be a huge issue.

  4. You often want the fins out of the water on some sections of a ride in any case.