The SharkSafe Barrier™ is in the Bahamas!

We are very excited to finally share a significant achievement for SharkSafe Barrier™, marine conservation, human safety, and eco-tourism alike. This was a milestone for our team and for all involved in making this possible. The SharkSafe Barrier™ technology has now been installed on an island in the Bahamas and is the first shark-specific and eco-friendly mitigation of the shark-human conflict. Our nature-inspired technology is currently the only eco-friendly alternative to shark nets, which are responsible for the deaths of thousands of sharks and other marine life every year.

Following consultation with world-renowned Caribbean shark expert Cristina Zenato, areas where sharks could be swimming more often were identified, and in August this year, a 30-metre SharkSafe Barrier™ was installed at the Berry Islands, in line with the Bahamas’ shark conservation effort. In fact, in 2011, the Bahamas proclaimed the first shark sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean, and in 2018, a Marine Action Partnership (MAP) for Sustainable Fisheries.

The SharkSafe Barrier™ installed in the Bahamas consists of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes manufactured locally by KND Fabrications in Maitland, Cape Town. During installation, the buoyant pipes are anchored to a grid-like structure one metre apart from one another, with large ceramic magnets staggered in the ocean-facing row. The grid is then weighted by 200-kilogramme limpet-shaped cement blocks and secured by rock and sand anchors.

The materials were shipped from South Africa in July. The SharkSafe Barrier™ installation team, composed of Eng. Laurie Barwell, who supervised the land team, and Dr. Sara Andreotti, who led the underwater team, arrived at the installation site ready to receive the container within a few days of their arrival.

Unfortunately, when it comes to shipping, delays can be surprisingly frustrating, and between shipment delays and customs clearance, the materials were released two weeks after the scheduled date. But it wasn’t all bad, as the two weeks spent waiting for the materials to arrive gave the team enough time to train and prepare the installation team. Once the container arrived on the island, the team was able to install the entire structure in just six days.

On the last day of the installation, a manatee swam leisurely straight through the SharkSafe Barrier™, emphasising once again that the barrier is shark-specific and allows for marine life to thrive.

Apart from the fact that the SharkSafe Barrier™ combines two proven shark repellent strategies; it has also been designed to remain in the water for at least 20 years with minimal maintenance required. This offers an opportunity for marine life to settle on the cement blocks that anchor the barriers to the seabed, forming an artificial reef.

This is the first commercial installation of the SharkSafe Barrier™ and is the breakthrough that the team has been working towards for the past 15 years. It sets the stage for a world where safe and sustainable coexistence between humans and sharks can be a reality and paves the way for sustainable shark-human conflict mitigation worldwide. This is a win-win situation, especially for areas that rely on ocean recreation as a main source of revenue, such as beach towns in South Africa, Brazil, New Caledonia, the Bahamas, and Réunion.

Released November 2023.