Surfer vs. Predator

Modom’s shark leash claims to keep the sharks at bay


By Brad Oates



Shark attacks were at a record high last year, according to the global database International Shark Attack File (ISAF). One of the world’s best surfers, Mick Fanning, was chased by one from the waters of a World Tour event in South Africa on live television. Closer to home, in the Monterey Bay, there has been a constant stream of footage of sharks swimming around the cement ship in Aptos. And who can forget the boat in Capitola that had a chunk of it removed by a 13-15 foot great white?

Where there is saltwater there will be sharks, and we as surfers are all too familiar with this freaky fact. Here in Santa Cruz, we live in what is known as “the Red Triangle”—an area extending from Bodega Bay out beyond the Farallon Islands and just south of Monterey. Thirty-eight percent of total great white attacks on humans have occurred here, according to the ISAF.

But other than avoiding particularly sharky waters (where, let’s face it, some of the best waves are found), what can surfers do to protect themselves? This is where Australian surf design company Modom says it can help. It has created a shark-repelling board leash that it claims can solve this perennial problem.


The Modom Shark Leash


How it Works: In the mid ’90s it was discovered that sharks have a heightened sensitivity to close-range, low-frequency electrical and magnetic fields. Before there was Modom’s leash, there were Sharkbanz—magnetic shark-repellant bands worn around your ankle or wrist like a watch. Utilizing Sharkbanz’s patented magnetic technology, the Modom leash emits a magnetic field that the company says creates an “unpleasant sensation” for the sharks at close range that causes them to flee. This was demonstrated in a video posted to Sharkbanz’s Youtube channel in which a sock is stuffed with raw meat and dangled off of a surfboard into sharky waters—once with a Modom leash and again without. Sans leash, sharks circle and chomp without hesitation. With the leash, they circle and then back off. The video was enough to create hype throughout the surf world. World Tour competitors were reportedly buying the leashes to use in Western Australia and South Africa.



First Impressions: You will definitely notice that the shark leash weighs more than your standard leash because of the built-in Sharkbanz on the back of the ankle strap. A tad bit of weight nipping at your ankle seems like a fair trade off when sharks steer clear.


Highlights: Because it utilizes magnet technology, the shark leash requires no charging or batteries and does not lose its deterrent power over time.



Drawbacks: At $180, it’s not cheap. But can you put a price on your limbs and life? We didn’t think so.


The Verdict: The Modom product isn’t the first shark-deterring leash on the market, but it’s hands down the best. Most shark-repellant technologies have been extremely expensive, cumbersome to install and pitched more toward the scuba and diving crowd. The Modom shark leashes, meanwhile, are easy to use—it’s as simple as putting a leash on your board. Whether you’re a World Tour surfer or a weekend warrior, it’s a durable, reputable technology that will stay firmly around your ankle while you get the barrels of your life—with the sharks looking on from a distance, of course.



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