Wetsuit prevents sharks and other fish from detecting tiny electrical signals from divers’ muscles.
When swimming in the open ocean, your every movement gives off invisible signals to the fish and sea creatures around you to betray your presence.
Sharks, lobsters, crayfish, rays, eels, lampreys, ratfish, lungfish, sturgeons and some dolphins all have the ability to detect these tiny electrical impulses given off by the movement of muscles and the beat of your heart.
But a new wetsuit could allow divers to slip undetected through the water by preventing these signals from being given off, acting like a kind of underwater ‘invisibility cloak’. It promises to let divers to get close to large predators like sharks that often use this ‘sixth sense’ to detect prey. The technology ‘blocks 95 percent of the electrical signals given off by your muscle movement,’ Riley Elliott said in a YouTube video explaining how it works.
It works using the same principle that means you will never be struck by lightning while inside your car.
The principle is based on a Faraday cage, invented by the scientist Michael Faraday in 1836. Faraday discovered that inside a sphere of conducting material, the electric field balances out to become zero, even in an external electrical field.
This is because external electrical field causes the electric charges within the cage’s conducting material to be distributed such that they cancel the field’s effect in the cage’s interior.
HECS® Aquatic built a conductive grid that attenuates electrical fields into their wetsuit.
‘HECS® is made with a conductive carbon fibre mesh designed to reduce your electrical energy field,’ the company website says.
Mr Elliott is not the only one to enjoy the proximity of creatures of the deep after donning the wetsuit.
‘I’ve noticed a marked difference in how close I can approach certain marine life underwater while wearing the HECS® suit – a worthwhile advantage for any cameraman,’ said Dave Abbot, a filmmaker in New Zealand.
‘[The] first time diving in my HECS® suit I got all three cray species in the one dive. I never thought it would be possible or this easy,’ said Jordan Murley, a marine biologist.
‘The crays were slow or non responsive to touch and movement when I was wearing the HECS® suit.’
‘During a recent trip to the Bahamas I had the opportunity to wear the HECS® dive skin,’ said Jason Scanlon, a diving instructor.
‘During the first set of dives I started to notice that most of the wild life ignored me and would swim around and near me as if I wasn’t even there.
‘I was able to get very close to the life, which allowed me to capture photos and video that others on the dive could not. As the week progressed I noticed that most of the life would treat me as if I were one of them instead of an intruder into their space, some even ran into me.’
The wetsuit is available starting from $399 (£300) in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and $449 (£338) in the US, Canada and Mexico.