What is Shark Eyes?

The Waterman's Shark Deterrent

What is Shark Eyes?

Shark Eyes is an affordable, non-invasive, visual deterrent brought to you from the grass roots- the most experienced watermen in Australian waters- abalone divers. Abalone divers have more wild, non-baited encounters with sharks in Australia on a regular basis than anyone.


Those endorsing shark eyes (Ambassadors) consist of abalone divers, marine scientists, shark researchers and professional water sportsmen. Shark Eyes also includes a Shark Safety Guide- (practical information booklet) compiling the combined knowledge of our ambassadors and endorsed by them.

How does it work?

1. Sharks have high visual capabilities

It is well known that sharks have superior senses. Recent research has discovered this includes extraordinary visual capabilities. Sharks have been found to visually detect surface prey (Strong, 1996) and possess highly visual capabilities (Gruber & Cohen, 1985).

Sharks are ambush predators who rely heavily on the element of surprise to capture their prey (Strong, 1996). Their predatory tactics include a risk assessment before attacking their prey (Lima & Dill, 1989). Shark Eyes aims to alter the shark’s initial risk assessment thereby altering – and ultimately aborting — its strike behavior (Martin et al., 2005).

Shark Eyes is unlike any of the shark’s natural prey and is designed to mimic the look of the human eye. Hours of research have gone into designing a set of eyes that sharks can see. Science is unsure whether sharks can see color, though many scientists believe they can. However, we know they can see contrast. The design of our Shark Eyes decal achieves depth of field through contrast.

A great white shark checking out photographer Phillip Thurston.

2. Shark Eyes eliminates the predatory element of surprise.

When the element of surprise is gone, sharks often abandon their attack.

Sharks are ambush predators, just like lions and tigers. Similar to land apex predators, sharks rely heavily on the element of surprise. We have witnessed first-hand how sharks change their behavior and become more cautious once eye contact is made.

Shark Eyes decals are designed to mimic human eye contact, making a shark feel like it has been spotted and eliminating its element of surprise. This trickery has the potential to change a shark’s behavior and prevent an attack.

Shark Eyes ambassador Marc Payne staring at a great white shark and taking away the element of surprise.

3. Mimicry

Shark Eyes decals are simply imitating what nature is already doing.


Mimicry is a scientifically-proven successful defense mechanism often seen in nature. Land and water animals are known to adapt their appearances to mimic large, false eyes to fend off predators. This is seen in birds, butterflies, moths, cats, caterpillars, fish and more.

Humans also have used mimicry successfully as a line of defense. In India, locals wore face masks on the back of their heads to protect themselves from tigers. Before the face masks were introduced, the fatality rate was 60 deaths a year. After the introduction of the face masks, no fatalities were recorded.

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

Why use Shark Eyes?

Shark encounters and attacks are increasing in Australian waters and elsewhere around the globe, affecting our carefree attitude and enjoyment in the ocean.

Look after your own space in the water!
Our Shark Eyes visual deterrent decals and practical information booklet will make you feel safer and more confident in the water, and more importantly, minimize your risk of an unwanted shark encounter or attack.

Sharks have keen visual capabilities and rely on their vision when hunting.

Mimicry is proven to work in nature. Shark Eyes deterrent decals simply imitate this successful defense mechanism.

Shark Eyes is non-invasive, making it safe for both humans and shark.

Shark Eyes decals are as affordable as a few beers, making them within reach of all ocean lovers.

Shark Eyes can be easily applied to the surface of many different water craft including surfboards, body boards, paddle boards, fins, canoes, wetsuits, diving tanks, swim apparel and more.

Shark Eyes does not alter the performance or flex patterns of your water craft.

Unlike other shark deterrents, Shark Eyes does not require recharging or run the risk of mechanical or electrical breakdowns.

Shark Eyes watching out for you when you can’t is reassuring – we’ve got your back.

The scientific theory behind Shark Eyes.

Sharks are visual predators that predominately use the element of surprise when attacking (Strong, 1996), usually from behind and beneath their prey (Tricas and McCosker, 1984). Studies found that sharks were initially attracted to their prey by the sense of smell, but appeared to use vision as their prey grew closer ( Strong, 1996).

A shark’s vision is well developed and more elaborate than most fish (Gilbert, 1963) with duplex retinas that contain both rod and cone photoreceptors (Gruber & Cohen, 1985) indicating they have high visual capabilities.

Sharks are also know to undertake a risk assessment before attacking their prey (Lima and Dill, 1989; Martin et al., 2005) and it is at this point where Shark Eyes is designed to assist water professionals and all ocean lovers.

Shark Eyes decals are designed to signal an approaching shark that it has been detected, effectively saying, “I’ve seen you” and thereby altering the shark’s predatory behavior. By taking away the element of surprise, Shark Eyes alters the shark’s risk assessment and deters it from attacking.

Figure 1. (Above) Hypothesized decision tree of predatory tactics by white sharks on surface borne Cape fur seals at Seal Island, South Africa. Modified from Martin et al., (2005). Additionally, the concept that “eyespots” used in mimicry (or finspots in fish) can reduce the risk of a predatory attack is well supported (Blest 1957, Vallin et al., 2005) and further complements the theory behind “Shark Eyes.”

• Blest, A.D. (1957) The function of eyespot patterns in the lepidoptera. Behavior, 11, 209-256.
• Gilbert, P.W. (1963) The visual apparatus. In: Sharks and survival. P.W Gilbert, ed. D.C. Heath and Co., Boston, pp. 283-326.
• Lima, S.L., Dill, L.M. (1990) Behavioral decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Can. J. Zool 68: 619-640
• Strong, W.R. (1996) Shape Discrimination and Visual Predatory Tactics in White Sharks. In: Klimley, A.P. & Ainley, D. (Eds.) Great White Sharks. The biology of Carcharodon carcharias: 229-240.
• Tricas, T.C. and McCosker, J.E. (1984) Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences series 4, 1984, 43: 221-238
• Vallin, A.; Jakobsson, S. and Wicklund, C. (2005) Prey survival by predator intimidation: an experimental study of peacock butterfly defense against blue tits. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 272, 1203-1207.