Google to Strengthen Undersea Cables Against Shark Attacks

Google has announced plans to reinforce its undersea internet cables against shark attacks using a material similar to that used in bulletproof vests.

Dan Belcher, a product manager at the Google, said at a Google Cloud Roadshow event that the company will be reinforcing its trans-Pacific fiber-optic cables with a Kevlar-like material to help minimize the damage from frequent, unexplainable shark attacks.

Scientists have known previously that sharks may be drawn to undersea fiber-optic cabling. The New York Times reported in 1987 that sharks had disabled four segments of brand new cabling in the Atlantic, and that shark teeth had been discovered embedded in an experimental line off the Canary Islands back in 1985. More recently, a remotely operated submersible recorded footage in 2010 of a shark biting into a section of cabling before swimming away.

While there is no conclusive reasoning for the behavior, it’s been theorized that the sharks are drawn to the electromagnetic signals given off by the high voltage running through the cables, which the animals mistake for the weak bioelectric fields generated by prey. This ability to pick up on such signals appears to work despite the fact that most cables are shielded to prevent such electrical transmissions from escaping.

Google recently announced it is part of a six-company consortium planning a new high-speed cable connecting the US and Japan to speed up communications between the US and Asia.


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