Researchers in WA are developing a wetsuit designed to reduce the risk of shark attack, using the latest science on how the predators see under water.
Using a State Government grant of $20,000, the University of WA scientists plan to make a prototype using contrasting dark and light patterns to help the wearer blend in and look less like a seal or other prey.
The grant, one of 13 from the Innovation Vouchers Program, was awarded to Hamish Jolly, a commercial innovator at Dunbar Harper.
He submitted the proposal after reading about a veteran oceanographer who painted his wetsuit and Tongan divers who painted themselves in stripes to protect against the "shark god".
He approached researchers Nathan Hart and Shaun Collin, from UWA's Oceans Institute, who are examining what a shark sees at different depths, distances and light conditions, including full sunlight and low light, such as dawn and dusk.
Professor Collin said their work showed most sharks were colour blind, suggesting that lines and shapes of prey were attractive.
"There might be striping or dots or some pattern that reduces the outline of the silhouette of the diver or swimmer, which would help them to merge into the background, so a shark would swim on, rather than identifying that as a potential food source," he said.
Mr Jolly said the wetsuit idea had scientific merit.
Statistics from the Australian Shark Attack file over the past 20 years showed half of victims wore a wetsuit.
Science and Innovation Minister John Day said the research was interesting and helped diversify the economy.
The second round of the Innovation Vouchers Program closes on March 2.