Google Undersea Cables Attacked by Sharks

Sharks. Not the most prevalent threat to the internet out there, but nonetheless, a threat. If you are afraid of these rough skinned, bad tempered, short sighted fish, this news may bolster your fears. Sorry about that.

He’s got a hunger only internet cables can satisfy.

Anyway, Google’s undersea fibre optic cables have been under attack by these monsters of the deep of late, with trans Pacific fibre optic cables, designed to send information across the pacific, targeted by inquisitive sharks.

Dan Belcher, a Google product manager speaking at the Google Cloud Roadshow, told attendees about the great lengths the company goes to in order to defend from these monstrous beasts. Belcher spoke of a brand new material, similar to kevlar, which will now be wrapped around such cables to defend from Jaws and pals.

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But why are the sharks so attracted to the cables? Well, unless the fish have worked out a way of posting to their Facebook profiles via strategically timed nips, there must be a reasonable explanation. Website reported on the phenomenon in 2009, here’s their answer to why the sharks are so interested.

“Unlike short-haul terrestrial fiber cables or old copper cables where the fiber did not emit noticeable fields, undersea cables must carry high voltage power to the undersea repeaters, which result in both electric and magnetic fields around and along the cable … Some sharks mistaken the electric fields for distressed fish and attempt to feed on the cable.”

The defenceless victim of shark assaults.

The site also explained what happens when a shark bites into the cable, highlighting just how damaging the bites can be, plus the difficulty of rescuing ruptured cables from the bottom of the ocean.

“When the deepwater sharks bit into the light wave cable, the teeth penetrated the medium density polyethylene (MDPE) jacket on the cable. This exposed the copper tube, surrounding the core of the cable, to seawater. The electric current, which flows through the copper tube to power the amplifiers, arced into the sea and short-circuited the power system, causing the cable to lay lifeless at 9,000 feet (2,744 m).”

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Whatever the sharks are planning on, and whether their plans involve shorting out the internet for good or not, Google’s new kevlar cable coating is the only thing standing in their way. Here’s a video of a shark assaulting a defenceless cable.

Source: The Guardian