Shark Skin

The shark skin of the Great White shark in Cape Town consists of a large number of dermal denticles also called placoid scales. When cage diving in Cape Town you will get an idea of this for yourself. If you were to stroke the shark from head to dorsal fin, you wouldn’t notice any resistance. The other way round however, you would feel the rough surface of its skin. At this point we would like to mention that it is at no time permitted to touch the sharks during shark cage diving as it is far too dangerous for inexperienced hobby divers.

Cage Diving in Cape Town – South Africa Great White Sharks – Research 

shark skin Great White shark  

The placoid scales offer the shark protection from injuries and reduce drag, ensuring the shark is streamlined. The skin consists of tiny microscopic teeth which immensely minimise fractional resistance in the water. The Great White Shark is thus able to remain energy efficient while swimming, reaching top speeds of up to 60km/h when hunting.

A Great White loses approximately 20 000 of these placoid scales per year. In the same way that its teeth regrow, so do the scales replace themselves and grow larger each year.

Research makes use of specific characteristics of land and water animals, and implements these studies in the development of new products. Diving suits have already been developed using the same concept as sharkskin.

Artificial skin is even used on racing boats, yet was eventually banned due to the enormous competitive advantage it provided.

Researchers are currently busy with the development of artificial skin for ship hulls. These will replace several coats of paint that are harmful to the environment. Another plus is that the artificial skin has no contact surface for barnacles or mussels.

For aviation and space travel they are currently developing an artificial shark skin for various aircraft wings. This will save large amounts of kerosene, especially on long haul flights, and will increase the overall airspeed. Researchers are struggling, however, with aircraft maintenance, but further tests on a new shark foil are in progress.

There are also research teams working on a shark skin coating that could bring about a major breakthrough and reduce annual fuel consumption by approximately 4.5 million tons per year worldwide. This special skin coating could also be of great use in wind power plants and could also be applied to formula 1 racing cars!

Cape Town and its suburbs offer fantastic beaches for many surfers and a sharkskin is being developed for surfboard applications which are sure to increase speed.

In earlier years skin was used in Japan for sword handles. Dried and tanned, this versatile skin was also used as an abrasive for sanding purposes. Even today in Japan, the popular wasabi root (very hot sushi mustard) is still traditionally grated with a grater made of sharkskin (also called shark leather).

Should you be interested in shark cage diving in Gansbaai, we offer daily tours from Cape Town to the kingdom of the ocean’s largest predator.

We look forward to hearing from you

Your Cape Town Cage Diving Team


Contact for Shark Skin