Heard on Olympic & Bundy - Fear of sharks? There's a band for that.
Sharkbanz is something you can wear around your wrist or ankle that uses a magnetic technology to help deter sharks.
We invited Davis Mersereau, VP of business development at SharkBanz, to provide some insight on the product along with Tower 26 coach Gerry Rodrigues to share his experience as a longtime open water swimmer and coach.
Rodrigues heard about the technology and did some research on his own. He reviewed the Sharkbanz website, watched the company's testing videos and ended up purchasing two bands for himself.
As a long time swimmer, Rodrigues says he thinks about sharks often.
"For me, ever since I was a kid and I started swimming in open water when I was nine, I think about (sharks) all the time," Rodrigues said.
"...Fast forward, and I've been doing this for almost 50 years, so when I saw this I said, 'I have to get the product because at a minimum, even if it doesn't work, I'm going to feel a little better wearing it.'"
How it works
Sharks have a sixth sense that we don't have, which is an ability to detect weak electric fields, called electroreception. The band generates an electromagnetic field, and when someone is wearing the band in the water and a shark comes into contact with that field, Mersereau says a shark will detect that and it will be a "sensory overload."
"It's going to disrupt that shark's electric sense. We liken it to somebody shining a bright light into your eyes if you walk into a dark room. It's not going to hurt you, but it's certainly going to make you want to turn away."
Mersereau says sharks are very curious animals. When a shark is approaching someone in the water, most of the time it's investigative in nature.
"What Sharkbanz does is tell sharks, 'This is not food and you should simply stay away,'" Mersereau said.
The company has an active partnership with a pair of chemists and marine biologists -- Dr. Eric Stroud and Dr. Patrick Rice of Shark Defense Technologies.
Shark Defense Technologies is a scientific research and development company that first discovered the science behind the magnetic technology a little over a decade ago.
The technology has been tested on most common predatory sharks, including Bull, Blacktip, Oceanic Whitetip, small Tiger, Nurse, Lemon, Caribbean Reef and Bonnethead.
The company says Great Whites are unique in that they are the only shark that acts as an ambush predator -- attacking prey from long distances.
"There is no effective way to prevent this type of ambush attack. However, Great Whites rely heavily on their electroreception when swimming in open water, and Sharkbanz could effectively deter an investigating Great White," the website reads.
You can read more information on the science and research behind Sharkbanz's patented shark deterrent technology on the company's "Sharkbanz Research Claims Document."
But does it really work?
Among the information that comes up when you Google "Sharkbanz" are news stories about a Florida teen bitten by a shark while wearing one of the company's bands.
Sharkbanz stepped up to investigate the attack and all of the circumstances so it could then review the case with its team of scientists.
"We're not here to offer blanket statements and/or "magic bean" products. Our goal is to improve on Sharkbanz' effectiveness through strategic (research & development), which has been underway since 2013," the Sharkbanz website reads.
Mersereau uses an analogy of a bike helmet or seat belt -- and getting into an accident.
"We always want to educate people about shark behavior, and we also want to let people know that just like any other safety device, Sharkbanz has limitations," Mersereau said. "It's important to note that in the event of a Great White being in attack mode, Sharkbanz is limited."
While the company does not promise to entirely protect you from all shark attacks, Mersereau says it's a way to "reduce the risk" and give someone peace of mind.
"I think because it's new technology, people are either dismissive or rightfully so want to poke holes in it, and that's totally fair. We always welcome that. I think also because it's sharks, people want this force field. They want this bubble, as opposed to simply acknowledging you didn't have anything before, and what we're offering is a step in the right direction. A better step toward safety."