Most of JAWS was tightly scripted, but Roy Scheider came up with,"You're gonna need a bigger boat" on the spot. What isn't rigged up slapdash is the true story of a shark repellent that marine scientists hope will work lastingly: using high-powered magnets.

The summer of 2018 has seen its share of shark sightings, and even some attacks, on Cape Cod. Dr. Craig O'Connell, a UMass Dartmouth marine scientist, believes he has come up with a system that has promise for resisting sharks.

Dr. O'Connell, who has for years researched various types of shark repellents, shared video with WBZ-TV which he recorded as he tested his theory in the Bahamas. First, he buried bait under a high powered magnet on the ocean floor. You can see the sharks approaching, but then quickly swimming away to avoid the magnet.

It gets more interesting. Dr. O'Connell built a barrier made out of PVC piping and placed these magnets within. He put 20 pounds of tuna on the other side of the barrier. The video shows over 60 great white sharks swimming towards the bait, but turning suddenly as soon as they approached the magnets. Not to cross the barrier for the tuna bait is impressive, and now, O'Connell wants to test his magnetic barrier in local waters of Cape Cod.

State shark biologist Greg Skomal is open to the idea of testing the barrier around here, but has some concerns about how it would hold up to the rough New England surf. Could it withstand the swells and would anchoring the barrier become difficult? While this is going on, researchers are working on underwater shark repellent spray and electromagnetic bracelets that emit electronic waves.

It's exciting that one of our own scientists from UMass Dartmouth would be on the cutting edge of stopping shark attacks--without shooting an air tank in the shark's mouth and blowing it to pieces.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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