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Hybrid shark offers excellent fuel efficiency

A new species of shark recently launched off the coast of Western Australia is claimed to be the first combining both a traditional meat-digesting enzyme system and a battery-backed electric drive.

‘The problem with previous attempts at carbon-neutral sea-life, such as the electric eel, has been that the battery-life hasn’t been very good, restricting the marine animal to just short journeys,’ said Chris Packham. ‘That’s stopped a lot of larger sea animals from investing in the technology, but the hybrid shark changes all that. It may not have a ‘zero carbon finprint’, as true electric fish have, but it is far more economical to run than a standard shark, meaning that when fully charged a hybrid shark would be able to travel up to 800km before needing to chomp on a surfer’s leg.’

Marine experts have questioned the need for fuel-efficient sharks, reasoning that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and higher sea levels would not be in any way be detrimental to the life of the average sea predator. But shark advocates claim it is simply a matter of economics.

‘What with fishing quotas and the dramatic rise in the price of fish such as cod, running a shark has become a costly business. A beast like that always needs its tank refilling. But with advances in Lithium-ion based batteries, it makes perfect environmental sense to make the switch to renewable energy – providing, that is, that you only use pole-and-line-caught batteries and they carry the dolphin-friendly mark.’

However, critics of the technology, developed in partnership with Toyota, have complained about the new shark’s ‘boxy’ look, it’s relatively poor handling at high speeds and the low-pitched whirring noise made by the animal. ‘I’m all for greater fuel efficiency,’ said one, ‘but being able to hear it approach is going to completely spoil the surprise of a shark attack. It would have made the movie Jaws utterly unbelievable.’

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Posted: Jan 14th, 2012 by bonjonelson

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