Environmental Impacts

Electrosensory Sensitive Species Study

Led by Stephen Kajiura, Ph.D.
Affiliated Home Campus: Boca Raton
Affiliated Department: Biological Sciences


This summer Lillian Mulligan joined Dr. Stephen Kajiura’s Elasmo Lab to contribute to a study on electrosensitive species, focusing on the testing of a proposed shark mitigation technique. Sharks have been known to bite into the subsea cables that bring electricity from offshore power generators to an onshore power grid. The high voltage current flowing through these cables creates a strong electric field that sharks have the ability to detect. This electric field can trigger behavioral responses that include biting at the cable with the misconception that is it a prey. A shark bite in the cable can result in service interruption and can be costly to repair.

The proposed technique aims to create an electric field strong enough to keep sharks away. Zinc and graphite are inexpensive metals that create a voltage when placed in seawater. Several different combination of zinc and graphite samples were tested to see which ratio would give us the best bang for our buck. It was found that the samples with a more balanced composition of zinc and graphite produced a higher voltage. The test samples that created the strongest voltages will later be tested in a behavioral experiment with sharks.

Click here to watch the student presentation.

HBOI ocean fish