04 November 2005

South Africa: New invisible shark cage design to be tested in Gansbaai

A designer perfume, packaged in a see-through dome, set South Africa's shark woman, Kim Maclean, thinking and now she has come up with a virtually invisible shark cage.

Shark tourists have had to watch the Great Whites of Gansbaai from behind bars but Maclean's design will make one feel there's nothing between you and those terrifying jaws.

And it will be absolutely safe, Maclean is quick to add, even if she finds it nerve-wracking at times.

The so-called crystal cage differs from ordinary shark cages because it doesn't have bars at all.

In the place of the square cage is an oblong tube made of transparent material that is joined with strips of stainless steel in places.

Maclean didn't want to reveal what the Perspex-like cover of the crystal case is made of but she said it was strong enough to withstand a collision at more than 40km/h with a large shark.

The fact that an aviation engineer assisted her in the design, should say a lot.

Still, not everyone will be able to watch the sharks from this glass box. As was the case in the pioneering days of the shark cage industry, only qualified scuba divers would be allowed.

Maclean got the idea of the crystal cage when she was looking at a bottle of designer perfume standing on the edge of a basin one morning.

The red bottle was packaged in a transparent Perspex dome and it set her thinking: What if the bottle was a diver and the dome an invisible shark cage?

Maclean said their first experiments showed that the transparent cage made the sharks less nervous than the old barred cages. At the same time, the large predators realised there was a division between them and the human on the other side.

Maclean and a marine biologist, Linda Staverees, will try to find out over the next three months how the reaction of sharks to the different cages differ.

Meanwhile, the new cage may not be used for daily underwater trips but marine and coastal management has issued certain permits to allow film crews and famous people to test out the cage.

Some of the celebrities allowed to use the crystal cage were British TV personality and comedienne Ruby Wax, former Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson and actors Amy Nuttall and Richard E Grant.

It's probably quite significant that the inspiration for the luxury cage escaped from a luxurious bottle of perfume.

Source: www.news24.com


At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a great believer in research, conservation & protection of all nature, particularly marine life, since I am a keen diver (Western Australia). However the latest research that seems to show that Great Whites are ocean travellers makes me have some doubts about the wisdom of attracting them to dive boats, which is very popular in SA. I don't know how smart a Great White is, but they seem to know a lot about where their food comes from. And maybe they will bring the clever tricks they are learning on your side of the Indian Ocean with them when they pay a visit to Oz (or elsewhere)

"Oh look a nice dive boat - just in time for lunch..."


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