There were two up-sides to a Perth
diver’s encounter with a 3.5m White Pointer 5.5km off Perth’s
popular City Beach yesterday. The first was that electrician, Bernie Williams, survived
the ordeal. The second was that an electronic shark repelling device
called a Shark Shield helped save him.

Mr Williams was crayfishing with two friends along a reef
when the shark locked its jaws on his left elbow and began “chomping”
his arm
and spear gun before dragging him off “for a ride.” “We were diving in
18m of water looking for crays when I got hit by a very big
shark,” Mr Williams said. “I never saw it coming. The first time it
came at me I stabbed it on the nose with
a spear gun but it was just like hitting a lump of steel. It didn’t
slow it
down in the slightest.”

“It would disappear into the gloom then reappear behind
you.”

Both friends, one wearing a Shark Shield, saw Mr Williams was
in strife so jumped in to help fight off the creature. And the shark
promptly vanished from the scene. Mr Williams said the shark’s sudden
change of mind was due
to one of his rescuers wearing the device which emits a signal sharks
find
discomforting.

The Shark Shield is manufactured by Adelaide-based
SeaChange Technology and is strapped to a diver’s leg. Its beam causes muscle spasms in a shark’s sensory
receptors situated on their snouts. SeaChange Technology says the device does not impact on
other marine life.

“It has no known harmful effects on the wearer or the
shark,” company promotional information says. “The benefits Shark Shield
technology brings to marine activities is not only in shark protection, but
greater focus on the underwater task at hand, be it work, eg harvesting
abalone, or play, enjoying the wonders of the sea.

SeaChange
Technology said both scientific tests and real life situations had shown the
device was effective in deterring a wide range of sharks, including Great
Whites.