News State SA News Surfer creates shark-repelling surfboard wax

Surfer creates shark-repelling surfboard wax

Surfer shark wax
Neil Campbell created the wax, which he hopes will warn off sharks. Photo ABC
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Could an organic surfboard wax really repel a great white shark?

The wax, developed by keen surfer Neil Campbell, will be tested off the coast of Port Lincoln next month.

It contains a mixture of herbs and spices which give off a pungent scent which he believes could deter sharks from approaching.

He hopes to further develop the wax blend to “take surfers off the menu”.

“I moved to South Australia in June last year and that presented me with the perennial problem for a surfer – sharks,” Mr Campbell said.

“If I was to continue surfing, I thought I had to protect myself in some way.”

Not convinced by electronic and magnetic aids currently on the market, Mr Campbell fell back on a custom he had as a grommet, lathering his board with tea tree oil and muscle creams.

He then began to research natural animal repellents.

And that was when Chillax was born.

“It’s simply local bees wax, cold-pressed coconut oil, a bunch of essential oils and spices,” Mr Campbell said.

“The essential herbs and spices came about from me researching a range of repellent combinations across a range of species.”

Clove oil, which has been used to euthanase Port Jackson sharks, is one ingredient.

So too are hot peppers – as Mr Campbell said he believed sharks were olfactory predators, meaning they hunt by scent.

Pitting surf wax against South Australia’s biggest sharks

In September, Mr Campbell will be given the opportunity to test his mixture against some of the world’s largest predators.

He will travel to Neptune Island – a seal breeding area where great white sharks up to five metres in length are common – accompanied by Flinders University aquatic researcher Professor Charlie Huveneers and shark dive operator and researcher Andrew Fox.

SA surfers
The wax has been designed to protect surfers from sharks.

“One of the things they won’t let me do is jump into the water with sharks, though I am keen to do it as I think that is what surfers will want to see,” Mr Campbell said.

A board or decoy covered in wax will be placed in the water.

Mr Campbell said they would be able to test the molecular spread of the product and the sharks’ reactions to entering the “infected” zone.

“We are going to scientifically measure the validity of what has been until now only a good argument,” Mr Campbell said.

With further testing and the addition of necromone oils made from putrefied shark tissue, Mr Campbell said he was hopeful that one day a commercial shark repellent could be on the market for use by surfers, scuba divers and spearfishers.

“What I would like to do is to develop the product to end up providing a flight response from the predator,” he said.

“I anticipate that we will get some good results from the [September] tests and we can go from there”.

–ABC

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