How Do Orca Calls Protect Divers From Sharks?

Attention, swimmers, divers, surfers, toe-dippers: the ocean just got a lot safer. Well, if you're swimming in waters with high risks of shark attacks, that is. A new device just launched that repels sharks underwater using one of nature's greatest motivators: fear.

The O.R.C.A., which stands for Ocean Recreation Comfort Apparatus, is a wristwatch-like device that emits sounds at frequencies that sharks find annoying, combined with wild orca calls, which have been shown to scare away sharks. Sharks hear at a 10 hertz to 800 hertz, and can hear sounds that are much lower than humans can.

"Scientists have been working on shark deterring methods based on sounds for decades," said Dr. Manue Martinez, head researcher at the Pacific Whale Foundation. "Since the 1970's, they have shown that killer whale sounds can trigger some shark species to move away. We are just bringing solid existing science to a wearable device."

Though shark attacks are incredibly rare (you wouldn't know it, from the fear-mongering TV shows and films that paint sharks as deadly maneaters), the device and other shark deterrents like it provide a sometimes much-needed source of comfort for divers and swimmers -- and ease peoples' apprehension about sharks in general.

The method is a breath of fresh air from other shark control methods that are based on fear -- though a different type of fear. The shark cull off the western coast of Australia sparked intense controversy, and was called unscientific, inhumane and ineffective by conservationists, shark scientists and even the family of a shark attack victim.

The product, developed by the company NoBite Technologies, will sell for about $70, and is currently being funded by a Kickstarter here.