Every year, there are shark attacks in locations all over the world, with an average of 82 yearly incidents from 2014-2018. In the United States, the annual average is 16 shark attacks (with 21 in 2020) and Australia follows close behind with similar numbers.
Now don’t get me wrong – statistically speaking, these figures represent an insanely small number of shark attacks when you consider the level of daily human interaction with the ocean. With all of the world’s surfers, swimmers and divers getting into the water every single day, 365 days per year there is a total of 80 shark attacks. The odds of being attacked by a shark really are miniscule. In fact, it’s said that the chances of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3.75 million!
There’s no doubt that people’s fear of sharks is wildly overblown and hyped up. Most surfers know quite well that the chances of being hit by a car, or struck by lightning are substantially higher than the chance of being attacked by a shark while surfing at your local surf break.
However, despite that knowledge, we’ve all had that eery feeling, and I know I get it…. when I paddle out to surf by myself, or with very few other people out (rare these days I know). That uneasy feeling of not knowing what is lurking below is hard to shake and I think most surfers would have it from time to time. So what can we do about it?
Sharkbanz has offered a solution to this problem for several years now – providing surfers and other ocean enthusiasts peace of mind when in the water. But do Sharkbanz really work? A wearable band designed to repel sharks?
I have to admit that despite hearing of Sharkbanz over the years, I’ve never really taken much notice of them and I didn’t know much about the product and more to the point, whether it actually works. I decided to do a little research and find out more.
This Sharkbanz review will help you to make up your own mind about the claims behind Sharkbanz and whether wearing one might be worth considering.
Table of Contents
About the Sharkbanz Company
For years, we sat on our surfboards in murky water, wondering what lurked below. We dove reefs and swam helplessly next to 10 foot Sand Tiger Sharks, hoping for the best. The ocean remains the last frontier on our planet, but we couldn’t believe that in the 21st century, no user-friendly solution existed to help ease our mind and offer protection. After a particularly spooky day of nervous laughter and conversations about the weather to avoid the pointy subject, my father and I decided to do something about it.
– NATHAN GARRISON, Co-Founder Sharkbanz
After 3 years of testing, design, development and more testing, Sharkbanz officially launched at the beginning of 2015 with the release of Sharkbanz V1. A decade of research led to the production of a patented magnet technology with active shark deterrent properties that keep sharks at a distance.
While producing a product that deters sharks and provides beach goers with protection and peace of mind, it’s positive to see that Sharkbanz remains committed to promoting marine conservation and education.
Formalising their commitment to the ocean they have developed 3 primary conservation focus areas:
- Protect and restore ocean habitats
- Eradicate Shark Finning
- Prevent new offshore drilling.
Sharkbanz 3% Giving Back Pledge
Sharkbanz is proud to walk the talk and donates 3% of profits to shark and ocean conservation groups with targeted efforts to pass legislation and affect measurable, positive change for the world’s oceans.
How does Sharkbanz work?
Sharks have the strongest electroreception (sensitivity to electrical fields) in the animal kingdom. They use this unique capability to navigate at night, when in murky water, and to hunt. Their electroreceptors (Ampullae of Lorenzini) and lateral line canals connect to the seawater by pores on their snouts and other zones of the head. When a fish swims, or even moves its gills, it creates a change in the surrounding geomagnetic field that sharks can detect with these electrically sensitive, gel-filled canals.
Sharks have evolved with the ability to detect weak electromagnetic signals from their prey (heartbeats, muscle movements), and as a result this organ is highly sensitive.
Since its discovery over 10 years ago, the theory of permanent magnets functioning as shark deterrents has been extensively studied, refined and tested on a variety of shark species. Sharkbanz are the result of this R&D.
Sharkbanz utilize powerful permanent magnets to create a shark deterrent that’s always on and requires no batteries or charging. When sharks approach Sharkbanz, they detect the device’s strong electromagnetic field, which provides a sudden sensation that is thousands of times stronger than the signal produced by anything in a shark’s normal food chain. Consequently, sharks are deterred away from Sharkbanz. This cause and effect is analogous to having a bright light suddenly shined in your eyes in a dark room. You would not be hurt, but you would want to turn away.
About Sharkbanz 2
Sharkbanz 2 is the 2nd version of their shark deterrent wrist/ankle band product utilising the patented Sharkbanz Technology.
The band is available as a stylish wearable with an ergonomic design. It is easy and comfortable to wear and despite what you might think, has no need for batteries or any requirement for charging
It weighs only 3 ounces, and the premium materials make it comfortable to use.
You can place it on the wrist or the ankle, and it fits all ages from 5 years old and above.
Every purchase comes with a magnetic shield box for safekeeping and is an airline travel-friendly device, as well.
Do Sharkbanz Really Work?
Sharkbanz have proven to be very popular since they launched over 5 years ago now. The product reportedly flew off the shelves and continues to do so as customers continue to seek some sort of protection against the every growing fear of sharks.
But the question remains: do Sharkbanz really work?
While there are success stories and positive user reviews for Sharkbanz, there are also skeptics and critics of Sharkbanz and here we’ll look at the views of both. Firstly however, it’s worth looking at some of the testing that Sharkbanz themselves have conducted and documented on videos which have served as great promotional materials for the product.
Sharkbanz Research Tests
Sharkbanz have released a large number of videos of various tests they’ve undertaken using the Sharkbanz product to repel sharks. While the videos are cut to show highlights, it is quite clear that the tests are not fabricated and that sharks are put off by the device. See some videos further below with additional links to view more.
Sharkbanz points out and I think this is important to note, that their technology has been tested on the most common predatory sharks, including Bull, Blacktip, Oceanic Whitetip, small Tiger, Nurse, Lemon, Caribbean Reef, and Bonnethead. Sharkbanz makes no claims as to the effectiveness of their product to deter the largest and most deadly sharks such as Tiger Sharks and Great Whites.
With regard to the most infamous shark of all – the Great White – Sharkbanz specifically notes that while their product “could” effectively deter an investigating Great White…
it’s important to note that Great Whites are unique in that they are the only shark that acts as an ambush predator, attacking from a long distance at high speed. There is no effective way to prevent this type of ambush attack.
By purchasing Sharkbanz, buyer acknowledges that Sharkbanz are a deterrent to shark interactions and that there is NO GUARANTEE of no shark interactions. We liken Sharkbanz to other safety devices, such as bike helmets and seat belts. They’re intended to reduce the risk of harm, but they cannot protect someone fully, all the time. Instead, they add protection when previously there was none.
It seems to me that any expectation that a Sharkbanz could effectively stop an attack from the larger and most aggressive sharks ie Great Whites – is simply unrealistic. Sharkbanz certainly doesn’t purport that their wearable device can do this, but I feel like critics of the company (and other shark deterrent companies) perhaps unfairly use this as a point to pick at. We’ll have a look at the critics further in this article.
Sharkbanz User Reviews
While we approach the reviews on the Sharkbanz website with some scepticism, here are a selection:
On external review platforms, many users give Sharkbanz a 5-star rating. Some note their close encounter experiences with sharks while wearing the device.
Overwhelmingly, the majority of reviews left on the independent Shopper Approved platform for instance are positive comments from customers who are clearly looking for something which gives them more confidence when they are in the water. Some examples:
“Love the ocean and want to have a relief well being out there. So This is the reason I bought the shark banz.”
“Thanks for helping to get me back in the water that I love!”
“I feel safe after buying this. My boyfriend loves diving, he always talks about seeing sharks or had a shark tries to attack him to steal his fish. It scares me having the idea of him being in danger. I researched about Sharkband, I definitely believe that this will protect my boyfriend from sharks.”
“I believe in the sharkbanz product and use them whenever we go surfing or snorkeling. I’ve had very up close and personal experiences with both bull and tiger sharks. Fortunately, I’ve never been bitten. Hopefully, I’ll never have another close encounter with a dangerous shark, but if I do, I hope I’m wearing my sharkbanz!”
“I buy these every year for my son in Florida. I feel he is protected by them!”
Critics of Sharkbanz
For all the supports of Sharkbanz there are notable critics. There is, in fact, a lack of scientific peer reviewed testing and evidence to support the efficacy claims of Sharkbanz, no matter how much they may mention the science behind the product on their website.
Craig O’Connell, a noted shark expert, has along with other peers warned against placing faith in commercially available anklets and bracelets bearing small magnets such as Sharkbanz and others. He suggests that the magnets are too small to have a sufficiently large magnetic field to be consistently reliable.
Another critic is Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University, who says that there just isn’t enough proof to suggest they are truly reliable and that the “science” is done by the manufacturers. Further he says that the key difficulty in testing is that there many different species of sharks and the circumstances and situations of shark attack incidents vary considerably.
Furthermore, because of the rarity of shark attacks, it’s difficult to confirm whether these technologies are even effective in the first place — which itself can create a problem for someone that believes they do.
In terms of real scientific testing there have been a number of independent tests of shark repellants. In 2018 independent tests were carried out on five Shark Repellent technologies using Great White sharks. Only Shark Shield’s Ocean Guardian Freedom+ Surf showed measureable results, with encounters reduced from 96% to 40%. SharkBanz bracelet & SharkBanz surf leash showed no measureable effect on reducing shark attacks.
Sharkbanz Review and Final Recommendation
Critics of Sharkbanz, and other commercial shark repellant products worry that users of Sharkbanz may under an illusion of safety, undertake more risks in the ocean than they normally would and that because of this, the products are more trouble than they are worth.
I find it hard to side with this perspective when we consider the extremely low chances of being attacked by a shark while surfing, swimming or diving in the ocean. There would be very few Sharkbanz wearers, that would jump into known shark invested waters, just because they feel more secure with their wrist or ankle band.
The truth is, as far as I can see, that Sharkbanz gives many people that little bit more confidence that they need to feel more comfortable getting in the ocean. People are afraid of sharks, and that simply won’t change anytime soon. If a product can help people get over an irrational fear, is that so terrible?
Does Sharkbanz claim that their product will be effective in warding off Great Whites and Tiger sharks? No. In fact they clearly state that they don’t.
Will Sharkbanz work in all circumstances? No, it almost certainly won’t.
Do Sharkbanz work in repelling some sharks? Yes, clearly.
Just like a helmet will not guarantee your safety if you fall off a bike, Sharkbanz cannot guarantee your safety in the water, but it surely can’t hurt.
Consumers must make up their own mind about Sharkbanz. If it helps you feel better the next time you are paddling out for a surf, than that is a good thing in my book.