Shark Wrangler's Gear
Given the coy and somewhat lackadaisical approaches of many divers and guides in the world of sharks, Ken has felt the need to share some of his gear types and brands with you. He also explains why he uses some of that gear in his work with sharks. Some gear is basic and some is prototypical.
OUTFITTERS & SUPPLIERS: The Shark Wrangler does not endorse gear he has not used. He is currently testing more gear that he may endorse. If you are interested in endorsements or sponsorship OR if you need some type of gear stress tested in real applications, view this page.
The information on this page is not to be construed as advice, but, simply information. Ken Moran accepts no liability in the use of this information!
I take a seemingly simple approach on camera to working with sharks. However, in reality these magnificent animals are apex predators. With the special training I have, I approach all dangerous activities with safety as my primary concern. If you are injured, you cannot lookout for the safety of the animal you are working. There are seemingly simple precautions to be taken whenever working in the ocean, let alone when working with animals. I would like to share some of these with you.
First, if you are going to be working in the ocean you must be aware of the environment and its inherent threats.
Protection from the Elements
The Shark Wrangler's Special Gear
|Thermal||Fishing Tackle and Gear|
|Proper Clothing||Special Gear|
|Weather||Personal Protective Gear|
Remember you are outdoors in a boat. Even if the vessel has a cover, sunlight reflects up off of the water. That brings up two concerns, skin and vision. For vision, I use a brand of shields that wraps around my face to completely shield my vision. 100% UV protection is important for day in and day out fishing. Blue ray blocking tint is also good and can enhance viewing through the water's surface if you are looking into the water.
For skin, you should either cover up (the best way to avoid UV rays) or lather up. If you use sunscreen, choose a good waterproof brand you know works. As you will probably not continue adding sunscreen throughout the day, use as high an SPF as you can get. While it may look funny, full block zinc nose screen is very useful to your most vulnerable area. Your sun shades will concentrate light rays on your nose. Cover it well. Also cover your ears and your neck below the collar. If you are out in the water to tan, you are not there to work. Nevertheless, covering up is the best and safest way to avoid skin cancer.
Long sleeve canvas shirts are best as they provide additional protection from injury, but, may be too hot for some. You can use thin cotton or other materials to keep your body covered. As for pants, WEAR them. It always annoys me to see "experienced shark hands" who jump onboard in shorts. To me it displays a decided lack of experience with sharks or other sea creatures. I love to stay cool and wear shorts in the heat. However, there is no place for bare skin when you are conducting hands on research. This brings up proper clothing.
Due to the solar contribution to hyperthermia, you will see Ken wear a panacea of different hats for different temperatures and applications. He favors wide brims that give some protection to his neck and shoulders as well as his head. Color does matter. However, on camera, white and really bright colors are problematic. Therefore, Ken has to wear some darker colors that are not as cool as he likes.
In the summer you have heat and in the winter cold. While heat stroke will kill you more quickly than the cold, most problems encountered in my area are related to the hypothermia. In the summer, carry water. My personal preference are frozen bottles of water. They will thaw as the day progresses and provide cooling as well as refreshment. Avoid too much soda and if you are serious about your work and feeling strong in the boat, don't go out drinking beer the night before your project. It takes to much out of your system when you have to dive or work in the sun. Remember pure water is your best vehicle for rehydration. Choose a good brand. If you freeze the bottles, bring some that aren't and spread the bottles around the boat. Make sure you can get water wherever you are working. Head off heat exhaustion! If you overheat, you will not be able to catch back up and work. On the other side, in cool waters or if you end up in the water all night, hypothermia is a real threat. Water removes heat from your body 8 times faster than air. A wet suit top or think 1.5 mm dive suit is always good to have.
In winter, prepare well. Pick good thermal wear. Once you lose heat, you will find it nearly impossible to recover it. I personally use the full body suit made by -------------------. It has served me well. Also, don't worry that your gear is not waterproof. Get a rain suit and wear it over your gear when it is very cold. Most mild winter days here can be weathered with a ski bib under a full rain suit or just the rain suit coverall bottom. The rain suit completely breaks the wind and keeps you dry. This allows your cold weather gear to be lighter and breathable. Remember, in the water during the winter a fire is not an option. While I carry a hand warmer on some trips, I definitely advise against anyone using them in a boat or other confined space application. There are too many explosive vapors in a boat. I take mine as I am captain of my boat. I know where the gasoline and flammable liquids are and where and when explosive vapors might be present. I keep the hand warmer as a last resort. Still, I advise you not to carry any continual burning warmer. For emergencies, such as frost bite, the disposable hard and foot warmer pads found at a department store may be carried. But, YOU MUST ALWAYS check with the vessel's captain before bringing such devices on board and before employing one.
One ignition device I do recommend though is a lighter. If you go out in winter near shore, you should always have a lighter. Along with signal flares, this is the one thing that will allow you to build a signal fire. It will also give you fire for heat. I carry two lighters, one new waterproof style and one trusty old Zippo©. It provides a broad rich flame and is easy to light with numb fingers.
You should carry a windbreaker or other light jacket to cut out the wind going in and out on the boat. If you get wet you can be cold even in summer. At night, it is a must have. You can also use goggles or sun shades to protect your eyes from debris and rain that is propelled by the wind in open boats.
Shark skin is sand paper. And even if it were not, your skin is simply no match for the shark's teeth. Pants and canvas shirts can save you a nasty wound. Small species often cannot penetrate denim or heavy cotton well enough to remove a chunk of your hide. Also, when working on boats scrapes, scratches and injuries are unavoidable. Things stick out on decks and gunwales and cockpits. Waves hit vessels on the side and roll you around. Someone with bare legs is asking for an injury. A simple screw head can cause a slashing wound inches long if you brush by it or slip and fall. The other concern this brings up is that if someone is assisting me and they are only mildly injured by a brush or slap from a shark they may fail in their job. If they release their grip or fail to do their job, someone else could be seriously injured.SCUBA Gear
Ken is currently diving ScubaPro Gear. He likes the Nighthawk BC rig, seen in the photo to the right, as it serves his tech diving well with a profile small enough to give absolute freedom of movement. He uses their Twin-Jet Fins in various projects having used the original ScubaPro Jet-Fins for years. His mask is also provided by ScubaPro. He has been wearing their masks almost exclusively throughout his diving career. The new triview works great with great field of vision.
Personal Protective Gear
Ken is working on some plate armor of his own after testing some light armor designed for other animals that was too easily penetrated by shark teeth. His designs hide well on camera. So far they have been effective but more testing is needed to discern the upper tolerances to attacks of the armor.
He recommends Hexarmor© gloves for certain limited applications with small sharks and animals that cannot "blade penetrate". Ken still uses chain mail gloves and recommends the gauntleted gloves for work with small sharks.
Information about Ken
Interviews and Tips
|More about the Shark Wrangler||Interview with the Wrangler|
|Shark species He has handled||A Warning on Sharks|
|The Shark Wrangler's Gear||Avoiding shark attack|
|The Shark Wrangler's Schedule||Handling Tips from the Shark Wrangler|
|Contact information for the Shark Wrangler||Ask the Shark Wrangler|
|Shark Wrangling Training||What's New with the Shark Wrangler?|
|What does a producer get in the Shark Wrangler?|
|Shark Fishing and Kayak Tours with the Shark Wrangler|