MythBusters were back (we need more new episodes), and in rare form for Discovery's Shark Week 2008. Given the theme, the MythBusters team set to work testing several myths about sharks. The team appeared to have a good if not nervous time tackling the myths, and it was a good show. We have the rundown for you as to what happened.
MYTH: A person can reduce their chances of a shark attack by playing dead in the water
Tory and Grant, members of the MythBusters team traveled to the Bahamas, where they wore protective suits and entered water that had attracted some sharks. The pair floateds a short distance from each other and alternated thrashing about and playing dead. A pattern was clearly seen where the sharks were more attracted to the active floater.
MYTH: Flashlights will attract sharks at night
It has been said that an electromagnetic field from the flash light activity will attract sharks. The MythBusters team do a night time control drive to get a count of sharks. Next they dive with lights, and they can confirm a larger number of sharks, and with a more aggressive stance.
MYTH: A person under shark attack can defend themselves by gouging the shark's eyes.
The concern is that a person under attack would not be able to find the eyes to gouge, much less be effective at using the move as a defense. Adam and Jamie set upon the task of building a robotic shark (since a real one would probably not cooperate, and it would be cruel to the animal). The mechanical shark they built was very life like, with an articulating body to simulate real shark movements, along with a steel toothed mouth. The eyes were actually control buttons to disable the shark. A test subject was used in a mock attack, and the subject did not how to disable the shark, just that it was possible to disable it. The subject was able to deactivate the shark. Another test, with the subject in the mouth, proved to be difficult. The result is that such an attack would depend on the individual circumstances.
MYTH: Sharks are repelled by magnets
Sharks have sensory organs that can detect electro-magnetic activity, and it is thought that these sensory organs would pick up the field from magnets and seek to avoid the source. The MythBusters did show that a small shark would seek to avoid a magnetic source when one was brought close to it. With the next test a shark would avoid swimming over magnets in a pool but would not hesitate when non-magnetic material of similar construction was used in its place. However, when food was present sharks would not hesitate to attack, regardless of magnets present or not. For this reason the MythBusters determine that magnets were not a strong deterrent and would not function as a repellent when attacked.
MYTH: Dogs in the water will attract a shark with their thrashing and scent
The MythBuster team built a robotic dog that could simulate a dog paddling in the water. They also added mechanisms that would excrete dog urine, blood and anal gland secretion. Despite the actions and attempts the sharks did not show any increased attraction.
MYTH: Chili peppers can be used as a shark repellent.
The MythBusters team made a concoction of blended habanero chilies and filled balloons attached to a food source. The sharks, not waiting for the balloons to be busted, attacked the balloons. The resulting chili floating in the water had no effect on the sharks.
MYTH: A shark will attack objects above the water
The MythBusters team used a stick with food and held it above the water a few feet. The sharks repeatedly came up out of the water to take the food.