Triathlon Swimming - Are there shark attractant or repellent colours?

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SharkI have often thought that the colour of my Orca wetsuit too closely resembles that of a seal which is after all prime shark food. So I got to wondering if there is any data on shark attractant or repellent colours, and if so, why are wetsuit manufacturers not making them accordingly?

It seems too little research has been done to draw any solid conclusions, and conflicting opinions or myths are rife.

Research does indicate that sharks do see in colour, as do most marine creatures. Makes sense, as I do not see why there should be such a vivid colour display down below if it were otherwise.

Of the seven colours tested in this short video below, it appears that the top three colours sharks are attracted to are yellow, silver and black (in that order), with blue and red being the least.


Now silver and black are the colours of my wetsuit, so my fears of “looking like a seal” seem well founded! Not good!

Again I think this test may have been too short to provide conclusive results. For swimmers I would like to see these tests done at or close to surface level as colours appear differently at depth. Multi-coloured patterns should also be tested as is indicated in this very interesting US patent:-

Techniques for repelling predatory animals by the use of aposematic patterns and coloration
United States Patent 4494245

A method for repelling predatory animals by the use of aposematic patterns and colorations is disclosed. A man (10) if isolated, alone, or injured in marine or ocean waters (24) is substantially at the mercy of numerous predatory organisms that live and thrive in the marine environment (24) such as for example a shark (26). There are however organisms or animals such as deadly Pelamis platurus sea snakes (28) which possess oposematic colorations such as bright yellow backgrounds (30) with black irregular spots (32). It has been found that sharks (26) typically have an innate avoidance response to these sea snakes. According to the method of this invention, therefore, the man or diver (10) protects himself from the predatory animal (26) by wearing a wetsuit (12) which mimics the sea snake (28) or some other aposematically colored organism. Thus, according to one embodiment the wetsuit (12) will be made of a bright yellow color background (34) having a multiplicity of black irregular spots (36), (38), and (40). In addition, bathing suits (50) and life preserver (52) may also be manufactured to mimic the coloration of other naturally distasteful or venomous animals. Also, hypothetical patterns which include the three basic aposematic colors red, black, and yellow may be applied to other diving and aqua marine equipment such as life raft (68) diving tank (76), foot flippers (70) and (72) and the like.

Certainly the situation is sufficiently serious to warrant thorough research into this area, and there could be a mint of money to be made by the wetsuit manufacturer who runs with the ball, as well as obvious benefits for us all.

So if you have insider contact with any, please send them a link to this post…

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