Well we all saw this one coming—or maybe just the cynics among us. It was only a matter of time before surfing’s latest safety device lost an ironic battle to the inevitability of nature.
Shark deterrents are supposed to deter sharks from approaching and attacking us—that should be pretty obvious, considering the name. Most of them utilize a magnetic or electric field that interferes with the shark’s electromagnetic field, motivating it to stay far away.
That is the concept behind Sharkbanz, which 16-year-old Florida surfer Zack Davis received for Christmas and was wearing on his left arm while surfing at Avalon Beach State Park. The band had been a gift from his mother, who like so many others probably sits at home worried while her son is out playing in the ocean. Ironically, the first time Zack wore the device, he was bitten by what appears to be a black-tip reef shark on his right arm (the arm without the band).
“I felt it hit because my hand was on the sand and I was getting turned by the wave, and I felt it grab on for like two to three seconds. And I came up out of the water and was like, ‘I just got bit,’” Zack said. “It was shocking. It wasn't really painful. Honestly I wasn't really in pain, I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to do something with this quick.’ So I just took my leash from my board and wrapped it around my arm because I didn't want to lose any blood.”
While Zack didn’t seem too fazed by the incident, Sharkbanz was understandably not thrilled, and made a public statement. “I’m really relieved he is ok and he was super positive about his recovery,” Sharkbanz co-founder Nathan Garrison said. “What happened here is essentially the rarest of shark encounters where Zack jumped off his board and pretty much landed on the shark. If anything it probably helped clear the shark out of the area quicker.”
Zack asserts that this isn’t exactly what happened—he doesn’t remember landing on a shark—and his mother is rumored to be requesting a refund from the company for the purchase price of $80. But all in all, the teen surfer walked away without a serious injury, and whenever you escape a shark attack relatively unscathed, that’s a win.
The moral of the story? If there is salt in the water, there are probably sharks too—and that’s just something we as surfers will have to deal with. Whether you think shark deterrents are going to keep you safe is up to you—just make sure you wear one on both arm—and both legs, and around your neck, and anywhere else you don’t want to get bitten!