Our Story

The Waterman's Shark Deterrent

Our Story Summarized

As experienced watermen from Australia, living and breathing the ocean, we’ve had countless first-hand encounters with sharks in their natural environment and have had to use all available means to defend ourselves from attack. Fish and other wildlife commonly use large false eyes (mimicry) to deter predators. The Shark Eyes decal aims to fool the shark into thinking it’s been spotted, removing the element of surprise and deterring an attack. After losing a great friend to a shark attack, and then watching a fellow abalone diver just scrape through an attack, we became motivated to make Shark Eyes available to everyday water users so they could have access to an affordable deterrent.

The Entire Story

Shark Eyes founder Shanan Worrall has spent his life working and playing in the shark infested waters off the Australian coast. As an abalone and shell diver, spear fisherman and big wave surfer, Worrall has had plenty of wild interactions with sharks including numerous shark attacks.

Shanan Worrall is the ultimate all-around waterman. Born in 1978 in Esperance, Western Australia to a family of avid surfers, he began surfing, fishing and spearfishing at the young age of six. At age 17, he began working as an abalone diver and deck hand and continues to commercially dive for shells to this day.

Shanan’s accomplishments as a waterman include:

Winner of the World Surf League’s Big Wave Tube of the Year Award, 2017

Oakley Big Wave Award nominee and finalist

3 time Esperance Deep Sea Angling competition winner

Billabong Big Wave Award finalist, 2017

Specimen shell diver

Abalone diver

One Ocean International trainer

Cray fishing, Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia

Shanan’s work as an abalone diver sadly came to an end in 2013 following a cascade of shark-related events in Western Australia that “spooked him” and left him suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. He struggled for a year to get back in the water and ultimately decided to change his career.

The first event occurred in October 2013. Shanan and fellow abalone diver and Shark Eyes Ambassador Greg Pickering were diving 180 kilometers east of Esperance when Greg was critically injured by a great white shark attack. Shanan and two other colleagues administered lifesaving first aid and rushed him to hospital. Luckily, Greg survived and still dives to this day.

That same year, Shanan lost a great friend in a fatal shark attack in Gracetown and personally experienced a few unwanted and unpleasant interactions with large sharks while spearfishing and surfing. Again, with luck, he saw the sharks and was able to defend himself.

Beyond the events of 2013, Shanan has other mates who have lost limbs in shark attacks over the years. For many people, the low probability of a shark attack is nothing to lose sleep over, but for Shanan and other frequent water professionals and ocean lovers, the threat of shark attacks is a very real.

The Humble Beginnings of Shark Eyes

Shark Eyes was inspired when founder Shanan Worrall and his dive buddy Joe Knight were trying to stay safe in the water while working as shell divers. “We were utilizing all these deterrents, but still we were at risk, and wondered what else we could do to protect ourselves,” Shanan explained.

They knew the naked eye worked at changing a shark’s behavior. They had both stared down sharks before and watched them retreat. But what if the shark saw them before they saw the shark? What if the shark came from behind or below as they most likely would in an attack?

The theory of mimicry came to mind. They had seen fish as well as other various land animals use large false eyes on their backs to protect themselves from predators. Shanan and Joe decided to mimic what nature was doing and painted and siliconed large eyes on the back of their wetsuits and water crafts. That day, Shark Eyes was born.

Shanan realized this non-invasive, accessible and inexpensive visual shark deterrent could save not only his life and the lives of his colleagues and mates, but also minimize the risk of attack for so many other water users without harming sharks.

Shanan Worral’s early days utilizing an array of shark deterrents and painting on eyes to keep themselves safe at work.

Mimicry is seen in fish to defend themselves from larger predators and in humans to prevent tiger attacks.

Shark Eyes Credibility: Science, anecdotal evidence and ambassadors

Do not be fooled by other shark deterrents on the market. None are 100% fail safe, and neither is Shark Eyes.

Shark Eyes works at the initial stage of predation, before you may even be aware that the shark is present. In poor visibility, sharks can detect their prey from 30-40 feet away. This makes Shark Eyes difficult to test in a true and non-baited environment. Instead, we rely on nature’s anecdotal evidence, science, and our ambassadors who have proven first-hand experience that line of sight trickery is effective.

Shark Eyes is endorsed by 13 expert ambassadors who live and breathe the ocean; some are research scientists. What all of these “grass roots” professionals have in common is spending regular time in and about the ocean through work and play. All have witnessed how sharks behave in wild interactions, they know how mimicry works as a defense in nature, and they have experienced how line-of-sight eye contact can deter a shark attack.

Shark Eyes – Practical Education

Practical education is of vital importance to preventing unwanted shark encounters. We believe that all testing must be performed in a wild environment, as baited or invasive forced environment can alter a shark’s behavior, making the results questionable. With the limited availability of accurate shark research, the first and foremost approach to the ocean and sharks is to minimize the risk of an attack.

Shark Eyes provides this education in the form of a “Shark Safety Guide” developed by professional watermen and women. Put it into practice alongside our Shark Eyes deterrent decals, and your risk of attack will be greatly minimized.

By purchasing Shark Eyes, you are also investing in our cause of non-invasive research and helping us continue our work to create personal shark protection products.