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Shark-safe wetsuits? Would different colors help?

The Great White Shark attack off the coast of San Diego yesterday (and Mark Shaw's insightful comments about it) got me thinking about wetsuits. Doesn't it seem that most shark attacks happen because sharks confuse swimmers or surfers with seals? (See photo to get an idea of what such lovely encounters might look like.)

Here is my question. Why are most wetsuits black then? The majority of the all wetsuits I have ever rented and worn for diving have been black; hence they make you look like a seal. They might have a few color accents, but I am not sure the vision of sharks is good enough to fully appreciate them.

The guy who died in 2004 after a shark attack in Northern California was wearing an olive camouflage wetsuit that made him blend into the rocks (and possibly look more like a dolphin than a seal. Sharks like dolphins, too.) This page has a lot of interesting information about that attack.

Some sources, the surfing handbook being one of them, say the wetsuits with big color contrasts make you look like a fish, which is apparently not helpful, either. I have to say, I have never seen a 6-foot fish of crazy colors though.

Is it difficult to dye neoprene, say, all white or all orange? Would that help or is that wishful thinking?

Filed under: Scuba Diving, Surfing, Gear, North America, United States

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