Will a lionfish-patterned rash guard protect you from sharks?
BoatsToGo has a new product out -- a rash guard that they think could help you stay safe from sharks.
"The unique color pattern of our Rash Guard mimics the features of highly venomous Lion Fish, therefore minimizing your chances of being mistaken for a sea lion or any other type of favorite food on the menu of local sharks."
The only thing is, lionfish don't usually hang out on surfboards... or body boards, or paddle boards, nor do they wear water wings. Or shorts. And a shark that has sea lions on its menu (such the great white) is looking at size, shape and movement... not pattern. They likely can't even see a pattern considering they're looking up from below at prey that is back-lit by the sun in the sky above.
In other words, the only thing going for the rash guard is the slightest resemblance to a lionfish pattern in waters with reef-dwelling sharks. And it actually might not do much good for those sharks that conservationists are trying to train to eat lionfish.
See, lionfish are a horrendously invasive species, accidentally introduced to the waters off of Florida. They like to eat everything in sight and there's not much that will eat them, considering their poisonous spines. And they've spread like mad all over reefs. Sharks from the Indo-Pacific ocean where lionfish originated do indeed dine on them, but sharks in waters where the species has been introduced haven't quite figured out that they're on the menu. So it would be great if more sharks actually did eat them.
In other words, sharks don't necessarily avoid lionfish. And on that note, we are really quite sure that this rash guard isn't going to deter a shark determined to discover if you are something edible (and usually shark "attacks" are actually only exploratory nibbles to see if you are worth eating...and we usually aren't).
The upside is, the patterned rash guard can't hurt. It's made with all the other benefits of rash guards, including UV protection. So, why not? And as BoatsToGo points out, "You’ll surely look cool and sporty while wearing our Rash Guard on any beach in the World, all while smartly hiding your body imperfections."
Nothing like stripes to hide rolls.
At the very least it will be a conversation starter with other beach-goers. You can use it as an opportunity to educate folks on what an incredibly problematic species the lionfish really is, and how sharks only very rarely take a nibble on a human.