In the deep sea, sharks lurk. But the victims are not always fish. Sometimes the prey is fiber optic cables. But why do these sharks like submarine cables that are used in telecommunication networks for data transmission?
When sharks attack, the proof of the crime is often left in place: teeth. But it is difficult to quantify these incidents and determine the specific effects on infrastructure.
George Burgess, director of the Shark Attack Investigation Program in Florida, United States, tells BBC Mundo that there is no database documenting the number of bites – or the damage caused – because it is secret information, both in the military as well as in the industrial area.
«They do not want to document these incidents. The owners of the equipment that suffer any damage do not want it to be known where the problem is. When they ask us to determine what could have damaged a cable that they bring us, they do not even tell us the place. where I was, «he explains.
The specialist explains that, as long as these types of marine connections exist, sharks will continue to be attracted to fiber optic cables. The reason? They generate electromagnetic signals that attract them because they are similar to those emitted by fish.
Mysterious and secrets
The bites of the sharks have made Google decide to use a material similar to the kevlar, used in bulletproof vests and tires for its great resistance and lightness, to reinforce its marine facilities.
Dan Belcher, the representative of the company that made the announcement, wrote on the Google account on Twitter to summarize the situation: «Sharks. We saw it coming. The next step, protect the internet from sharknados (referring to a movie in which sharks arrive in the American city of Los Angeles after a tornado) «.
In the tweet there was a link that included a video in which a shark was seen digging its teeth into a thick cable resting on the seabed.
These incidents, however, are not new. On June 11, 1987, the American newspaper The New York Times published an article about sharks’ taste for cables.
«The attacks have caused delays in the installation process. The cost of repairing a bite in the structure, which is the thickness of a garden hose, can exceed US $ 250,000.»
And he continues: «The first evidence of the attraction of sharks to this technology was found in the Canary Islands in 1985 when teeth were discovered embedded in the cable.»
Losing teeth is not an obstacle for them to try again. Two or three weeks later, new ones come out.
The appetite of these animals for fiber optics could be due to the confusion generated by electromagnetic waves. But considering the magnitude of the networks that exist today, and those that are expected to be installed in the future, the confusion will remain.
The US publication Forbes reports that there are approximately 200 fiber optic cables in the submarine network that is used to send data around the world. More than 95% of voice and data traffic passes through this infrastructure.
Forbes numbers also indicate that 51 trillion gigabytes per month circulated on those cables in 2013. That number is estimated to grow to 132 trillion gigabytes in the next four years.