Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines “Wearing a black wetsuit will make you look like a seal and increase the chance of a shark attack”?
Well, today is the day you can PROVE them wrong.
There is no research or data pointing to the fact that wearing a black wetsuit attracts sharks. In fact, wearing brighter colors that have high contrast with the water is more likely to increase the chance of a shark attack.
Let’s dive in and find out why this is a myth.
Do Sharks Like Black Wetsuits?
Sharks do not like or dislike black wetsuits. In most cases, if you don’t provoke them, they will just ignore you.
We have found no data supporting the claim that a black wetsuit increases your chances of being attacked by a shark.
One of the reasons why most wetsuits are either black or dark blue is because these colors have low visual contrast with the water, thus making divers less noticeable to sharks.
Also read: Why do Scuba Divers Wear Wetsuits?
What Color Are Sharks Attracted To?
If you’re hanging with divers, you likely heard the phrase “Yum, Yum, Yellow”. But is it true? Are sharks really attracted to yellow and orange?
A research conducted by the University of Queensland and the University of Western Australia, sharks may in fact be completely color-blind. Unlike their close relatives chimaeras and rays, sharks have only a single long-wavelength-sensitive cone type in their retina .
So, are sharks attracted to yellow and other bright colors? Technically no. Let me explain.
Research shows that sharks are most likely attracted by high contrast in colors and reflections of the sun rather than colors. This means that, while sharks are not necessarily able to see the yellow color, they are able to identify the fact that a color has a high contrast with their environment – water.
This is the reason why most wetsuits are black. They have low contrast with the water, and therefore are less likely to catch a shark’s attention.
Also Read: Is Scuba Diving Safe From Sharks?
What if I Have Other Yellow Equipment?
Some diving schools will rent out yellow fins because it makes it easier to follow the group underwater and not get lost. Most diving teachers will also wear yellow or orange fins so that you don’t lose them.
When you’re low on oxygen, the bubbles will also have a brighter color (usually yellow) so that your dive buddy or teacher can see this on time and help you.
Should you ditch all of your yellow equipment? No.
Unless you’re wearing a yellow, red, or orange wetsuit, it’s unlikely that other small equipment will create enough contrast for a shark to notice you. If you do feel anxious wearing a brighter-colored piece of equipment underwater, talk to your instructor.
What Other Diving Equipment Can Attract Sharks?
Besides colors that create a high contrast with the underwater environment, sharks can also be attracted to sun reflections. According to one of the leading shark researchers, George Burgess, sharks are attracted to everything that creates high contrast.
It was found that tattoos and certain bright nail polish may be linked to a higher risk of a shark attack. It all comes down to contrast, again. A shark will notice the dark tattoo on your pale skin, and also your nail polish.
Other items that are linked to an increased chance of shark encounters are watches, sunglasses, rings, and diving computers. All of these items can reflect the sun’s rays, which resembles the way fish scales reflect them, leading to sharks mistaking you for a fish and attacking.
It is recommended that you hide your diving computer under your wrist, not wear watches or rings, and avoid visible tattoos and nail polish when diving or swimming in shark-infested waters.
What Color Do Sharks Avoid?
Sharks are attracted to some colors more than others because of the high visual contrast. They do not avoid specific colors per se. In most cases, if you’re wearing a black wetsuit, a shark will just swim by and ignore you.
This doesn’t mean that sharks avoid the black color. It just doesn’t create enough contrast to attract their attention.
The next time someone says that black wetsuits make you look like a seal, you have the knowledge to prove them wrong. We have found lots of evidence that black and dark blue colors are the safest for divers.
We also learned more about the way sharks see, or rather don’t see, colors the way humans do. So while “Yum, Yum, Yellow” still holds true, the reason lies in the high contrast with water rather than the yellow color itself.
Don’t worry about your black wetsuit, and even if you have a small piece of yellow equipment. Most of us divers are hoping that we can see a shark during our dive. If you do see one, keep calm and enjoy this glorious underwater creature.
 ScienceDaily, 19 January 2011. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118092224.htm