Marine Bioligist Luke Tipple has finally done what Number 2 never could, provide us with sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.
The project was sponsored by Wicked Lasers, a consumer laser manufacturer in Hong Kong, that keeps the world well stocked in high-powered handheld lasers.
“This was definitely a world first,” Tipple told Wired. “Initially, I told them no. I thought it was a frivolous stunt. But then I considered that it would give us an opportunity to test our clips and attachments, and whatever is attached to that clip, I really don’t care. It was a low-powered laser that couldn’t be dangerous to anyone, and there’s actually useful applications in having a laser attached to the animal.”
Adding, “I figure everyone deserves a warm meal”.
But not really. The useful application he is referring to is testing whether or not sharks are repulsed by light of certain wavelengths. The conclusion is that anecdotal evidence is false, and the sharks are actually attracted to the light. Though Tipple admits further testing is required.
The test also proved useful in showing a sharks relative position to its prey when on the hunt. Marine professionals may find this information incredibly in-credible, as there is no scientific testing to follow up these observations, only the observations themselves.
The main focus was the testing of the new clamp apparatis that can be used to house real scientific equipment. The clamp is non-intrusive and dissolves after a period of time, so a shark isn’t swimming around with equipment on its back its whole life. According to Tipple, in his interview with wired, the tests went well. “The shark didn’t really like it when I initially deployed the clamp,” says Tipple, “but after a few seconds it returned to normal behavior. The clamp itself isn’t strong enough to cause any pain, and the dorsal fin is actually not very sensitive due to it being composed primarily of cartilage.”
Tipple has met some criticism for the stunt. Opponents say it is nothing more than a publicity stunt for Tipple and Wicked Lasers, who set up a Facebook promotion to gain support. Tipple is a sort of celebrity marine biologist, appearing on shows like Mythbusters and various Shark Week programs.
I say it’s two fold. Sure Tipple and Wicked Lasers get publicity for the stunt, but a clamp that does not require a scientist to poke holes in a sharks skin to attach it, and dissolves after a period of time in the water could be very beneficial to marine biologists. What do you think?