In September of 2000, the smell of death was discovered and revolutionized the mind of graduate student Eric Stroud. With shark attacks occurring on a global basis, Stroud wanted to somehow prevent them from harming people.
“It (the repellent) was a random thought going back to September of 2001,” Stroud said. “Shark attacks were all over the news and it was really just curiosity. Why isn’t there a shark repellent?”
Along with his advisor, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Dr. Hanson created a repellent from rotten shark carcasses to repel sharks away from the environment.
“What we’re working on is a chemical shark repellent,” Stroud said. “It is a chemical compound that’s made from rotten sharks. Sharks that are dead and decayed and there’s a chemical signal that we can pull out of that rotten shark meat that repels sharks and nothing else.”
The repellent itself is a liquid .
“It’s been sold in the form of an aerosol can,” Stroud said. “The can be thrown in the water where it stays at the surface and makes a big cloud and the sharks stay out of that area.”
The repellent is used for both fishermen and in the emergency when people are being attacked by a shark
“It’s very useful when someone’s at the surface like a rescue and you want to keep the sharks away,” Stroud said. “It’s also good for fishing. We’ve been trying to keep the sharks away from a fish coming back on a line that is struggling that a lot of sharks attack.”
Stroud explains that although they know the product works effectively, they still have no knowledge why it works. They are currently working on finding out in future research.
“The science is fascinating when you think that Mother Nature created this somehow,” Stroud said. “We need to figure out why from an evolutionary perspective did she do that and second what’s the compound and where’s it coming from in the body of the shark. “
Stroud works at the company Shark Defense as the Chemist and is currently in the Chemistry Program as a Graduate student at Seton Hall University. Along with Shark Defense, Seton Hall has been contributing to the research factor of the repellent.
“We participate in grants together and I think the research is very collaborative,” Stroud said.
In the field, there have been over 800 tests performed on sharks. There are two different types of tests performed to collect data.
The first test takes place on a boat where chum is placed in the water to lure the sharks to the boat. Once the sharks begin to eat the chum, they introduce the repellent to the shark to see if it makes them stop eating and remove themselves from the environment.
“We chummed sharks or wild sharks up to a boat,” Stroud said. “While they’re feeding, we introduced the repellent and they all stopped eating.”
The second type of test they perform is on juvenile sharks. They put the shark in a demobilize state by hanging them upside down.
“You can hang juvenile sharks upside down and they kind of go into a demobilized state,” Stroud said. “You can introduce a little bit of chemical right to the sharks nose and see if they wake up or if he just stays under. It is a trial and error process and you need to do it many times but it gives you a good feel.”
Because there are over 450 species of sharks, they have only tested the more popular ones, and hav e not been able to test them all.
“Now there is 450 species of shark, and we haven’t tested anywhere near all of them,” Stroud said. “We’ve tested most of the ones you would see but we haven’t tested on great whites and some of the rarer sharks that show up. There are just too many and we’re trying to pick the ones that follow the fisherman and start there. “
Shark Defense has manufactured the repellent and it is currently sold on their website at www.sharkdefense.com.
“It is sold online right now and it’s also going to be in a marine distributer,” Stroud said. “It will be in boating and marine supply stores probably next year.”
Jaqueline DeBenedetto can be reached at email@example.com.