Dr. Evil may have his request finally met after marine biologist Luke Tipple attached a 50-milliwatt green laser to a lemon shark last month. The “evil plot” was hatched by Wicked Lasers, a Hong Kong-based company that produces some of the strongest handheld lasers consumers can buy, to test an attachment clip Tipple is working on.
“This was definitely a world first,” Tipple stated in an interview with Wired. “Initially, I told them no. I thought it was a frivolous stunt. But then I considered that it would give us an opportunity to test our clips and attachments, and whatever is attached to that clip, I really don’t care. It was a low-powered laser that couldn’t be dangerous to anyone, and there’s actually useful applications in having a laser attached to the animal.”
According to Tipple, the stunt was instructive and has shown the clamp is a removable option for other items (most likely traditional data collecting equipment or cameras not deadly laserbeams). He also feels he worked at seeing if there was any evidence that sharks avoid laser energy of specific spectrums and wavelengths.
The shark was fitted the lowest-powered S3 Krypton green laser supplied by Wicked Lasers (producing a beam around 50mW) and he discovered the opposite appeared to be true, stating, “Although further testing is necessary, time and time again, sharks were actually attracted to the laser beam.”
Finally, he said the experiment was helpful in measuring a shark’s velocity and trajectory in real time. “We were able to see how their body positioning relates to a target,” he said. “You can get a very clear description, via the laser, of what the shark’s body is doing.”
Were you wondering if the shark did some high tech fragging on the reef? According to Tipple the shark didn’t seem to like the clamp and laser attached to it’s dorsal fin but after a few minutes it reverted to normal behavior. And according to the story, Tipple and the team did everything they could to ensure neither the shark, sea life in the area or the team would be harmed by the laser.
Have no fear because neither Tipple nor the team at Wicked Lasers has plans to Evil-fy the oceans with laser-wielding sharks.
“Depending on the power of the laser that they are armed with, the sharks could be significantly more dangerous,” said Wicked Lasers CEO Steve Liu. “If there was a way the shark could operate the laser on its own accord and use it against humans, we wouldn’t even attempt this.”