Fin be Gone

Local entrepreneurs say they've perfected a sunblock with a twist: It repels sharks

Dashiell, from the South Florida Science Museum, is still not convinced that shark repellent is practical. "You're more likely to be eaten by wild pigs than sharks," he says.

Hamicide? Why haven't we heard of this before? There are 50 to 70 shark attacks on humans annually. Since 1948, just eight fatalities have been recorded off the Florida coast. That's less than half the number of fatal alligator attacks in that time. Yet for many folks, sharks are more threatening.

"There's this primal image of an animal that kills with no remorse," Dash­iell says. "You cannot reason with it. That terrifies us."

That's what Teeka Tan is betting on.

To date, the company's reputation rests on distribution of Safe Sea, a sunblock that inhibits jellyfish stings. The new sunblock/shark repellent may be trickier. It works for only 30 minutes before it must be reapplied. And Bryan John, Teeka Tan's president, says he's concerned that the greater stakes with sharks mean more liability.

"If someone gets stung by a jellyfish, no big deal," John says. "Millions of people have been stung by jellyfish. Now, if something happens with the shark repellent and [a shark] swims up and takes a leg off..."

John and Rice agree that the fundamental issue isn't shark behavior. It's human.

Sharks are reliable. They seem to have behaved the same instinctual way for 400 million years.

People are another story. "We could have taken this public a long time ago," Rice says. "But we don't want some idiot lathering up with something, jumping into the middle of a bunch of sharks — and then we get a bad name."

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