With the recent uptick in shark encounters along the coast of Cape Cod, a new device could soon be used to keep swimmers safe. 

“Exclusion Barrier” is a network of black plastic pipes that are supposed to keep people and sharks separate. 

7NEWS recently spoke with Dr. Craig O’Connell, a shark researcher with the O’Seas Conservation Foundation, who said any measure to minimize risk is one worth trying.

“It is the sharks’ realm,” O’Connell said. “It is their environment and we do have to enter with caution.”

O’Connell said a large, visual structure such as the Exclusion Barrier system “works very well on visual predators like the great white shark.” 

“As those sharks swim closer and closer to the barrier, the electromagnetic field gets stronger and stronger and it basically gives them a little bit of a shock and they swim away,” O’Connell said. 

The barriers were tested in Chatham this past summer. Tuna bait was even used to tempt the sharks. 

“We had to use a very little amount of bait,” O’Connell said. 

He said the sharks were curious and tried to get to the bait. 

“But they wouldn’t swim through the barrier to get it, they would swim around it” O’Connell said. 

The barriers can be built as long as a football field and can be installed seasonally. But there is a catch. 

“It has to go from shoreline to shoreline and seafloor to sea surface,” O’Connell said. “If there are any gaps in the technology, the sharks are very, very smart. They’ll find those gaps and swim through it.” 

Researchers will now work with communities on Cape Cod to see if they’re interested in this underwater tech. 

While the technology gives off shocks, researchers say they do not harm the sharks.

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