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Google protects undersea cables against potential shark attacks

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Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist, theweathernetwork.com

Friday, August 15, 2014, 8:46 PM - When you plan for the costs to span the entire Pacific Ocean with fibre optic communication cable, you need to account for a lot of different factors to ensure that cable will remain protected and intact. Google, for one, is apparently taking no chances with its cables, even going so far as to protect them against shark attack.

How are they going to do this? By wrapping the cables in a kelvar-like material that will keep the shark's teeth from piercing the cable jacket and severing the fibres. If that sounds a bit of an unnecessary precaution, check this out:

A submersible remote-operated vehicle (ROV) happened to be surveying a section of this undersea cable when it witnessed this large shark - very likely a cow shark from the profile (and lack of dorsal fin) - trying to chomp down on the cable as a meal.

As reported yesterday in our article about amazing shark facts: "Using special sensing organs called ampullae of Lorenzini - which are located on the snout - a shark can sense electrical impulses, even those of a beating heart, and hone in on the sound when hunting."

While fibre optic cables use lasers to transmit information, and thus do not generate electric or magnetic fields, according to The Guardian, the undersea cable bundles must also carry high voltage electricity to power the signal amplifying repeaters that are placed at every 100 kilometres or so along the cable. It's this electricity that results in the electric fields, which attract the sharks' attention.

This is also very likely what happened in the video at the header of this article, as the electrical signals emitted by the drone very likely attracted the shark's electroreception.

So, next time your internet connection with overseas friends or family happens to cut out suddenly, give a thought to the fact that it might have been a shark interrupting your conversation.

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