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Sharks Attacking Underwater Internet Cables Can Cause Worldwide Problems

By Puja RoyNovember 08, 2022
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Sharks Causing Under Sea Cable Damage: It’s Not New

Introduction

On a bizarre note, sharks have been witnessed attacking undersea cables. These animals generally attack things that move and resemble their prey. They have been seen attacking and chewing on cables underneath the sea. Why are they doing these?


The undersea cables are very important for global communication and the search for subsea oil fields. Due to some reasons, sharks are causing damage to these cables and creating a ruckus. This incident is not new though. Back in the 1980s, these cables were attacked by sharks. Let us find out more about this news.


What are Undersea Cables?

Undersea cables are designed and installed for particular purposes. For instance, big companies like Google install undersea cables for transferring data faster and to make a new faster line of communication for the entire world. Some cables are installed by corporations looking for undersea oil mines.


The oil field detection process needs such cables to collect seismic data. They are equipped with hydrophones that sent back signals to the base. These signals are caught by these instruments when a seismic source creates them. These are called streamer cables. The cables that maintain a sustainable medium of communication are called internet cables.  


Recently, we have footage that shows sharks are particularly attracted to those cables. According to their natural habits, sharks do not attack something standstill unless it resembles prey. These massive underwater internet cables might have some features that are making sharks attack them.


Undersea cables date back to 1866. The first undersea cable stretched and covered the Atlantic Ocean. These days, we have installed thousands of such cables constructing a remarkable medium of communication and for other purposes.


The Ampulla of Lorenzini: An Impressive Evolutionary Organ

The news of a shark chewing internet cable has been confirmed by Google. Scientists have started to work on the reason as these massive fishes can cause huge damage to the worldwide communication web.


They explained this bizarre event with evolution. Sharks have developed a brilliant set of sensory organs called the Ampulla of Lorenzini. This organ evolved to receive and read electrical fields around them. Sharks have developed these organs in the form of mucous-filled pores on their skin. Many cartilaginous fish species have such organs.


These pores are filled with a jelly made of dense collagen. They conduct and transmit electrical currents picked from the surrounding of a marine ecosystem. The sensory cells linked to these pores catch the signals and detect the difference in voltage. You will be surprised to know that sharks can detect the faintest electrical signal of 1/1,000,000 volt.


Sharks use these organs for hunting. When their muscles contract, these pores generate a faint electric field around them. This electrical field is used to detect and hunt prey. Another amazing fact is that this electric field is capable enough to detect prey buried in the seabed. If a shark hovers over a prey buried under the seabed, it will recognise it and attack.


Another theory suggests that sharks can detect disruptions in the earth’s magnetic field with the help of their sense of navigation. The electric currents induced due to the movement of oceanic currents help them navigate and orient accordingly.


Why are Sharks attacking Marine Internet Cables?

According to the researchers, sharks are detecting disruptions in their nearby electric fields due to the passage of cables under the ocean. These cables generate an electric field, a potential reason for sharks to consider them as prey.


As we know that sharks attack prey that is buried underneath, which means that these cables are misunderstood as potential marine animals. Their navigation sense and the Ampulla are giving them mixed signals.


A Shark Attacking an Undersea Cable


A Shark Attacking an Undersea Cable


Also Read- Do Sharks Have Vocal Cords?


We also know that these cables stretch for thousands of kilometres underneath the sea. Sharks can deduce the size of prey from the distortion in the electrical fields. Hence, they consider these stretched cables as potential threats also. Even though these threats are not moving, their defence mechanism makes them destroy something that can be a threat.


These days, undersea cables are much less dangerous for marine wildlife, especially submarine communication cables (SCC). One of the interesting facts about SCC is that these cables are optical in nature. The optical fibres in them carry information in the form of light making communication multiple times faster.  


What is Google doing?

Google has been working to find a better format of cables to stop under sea cable damage. The company has created internet cables wrapped with Kevlar. Kevlar is used as armour to prevent knife wounds and gunshots. This fabric is tough to be bitten off.


Recent studies suggest that these cables are producing disruption in the electrical field. It might be the reason behind the increasing incidents of sharks attacking global communication cables under the sea. Measures are being formulated to ensure the safety of the cables without harming the sharks. It has also been speculated that the sharks are biting the cables out of curiosity.


Should We be Worried?

The events of the global internet attacked by sharks are fewer than the cable breakages caused by human activities. Moreover, sharks do not cause potential damage to the cables. You will be surprised to know that near about 200 internet cable breakages or failures per year occur due to our stupidity. Hence, there is no reason to worry. Your internet connection is probably down because of certain human activities.


Take a deep breath and relax. The sharks are not planning to take over the planet by cutting our communication system first. They nibble and scratch these cables either out of curiosity or due to the biological reason discussed before. Rest assured that these cables are not broken or get damaged by sharks on a regular basis.