Sharks Are Quite Literally Attacking The Internet

Thanks to Discovery, many of us have had our fill of watching sharks attack this week, yet the undersea predators are also sinking their teeth into something a bit unexpected: the internet, literally.

Google has revealed that it wraps its undersea internet cables in Kevlar, in order to protect them from marine life, such as inquisitive sharks, according to Networked World:

“Last week at a Google Cloud Roadshow event in Boston Dan Belcher, a product manager on the Google cloud team in an opening keynote said that Google goes to great lengths to protect its infrastructure, including wrapping its trans-Pacific underwater cables in Kevlar to prevent against shark attacks, he said. Google did not respond to a request for additional information.”

Contrary to popular belief, not all shark bites are predatory in nature. The animals often use their jaws to inspect objects in their environment, attempting to determine if an object is potential prey. As The Inquisitr previously noted, a robotic underwater camera used in this year’s Shark Week filming was repeatedly bitten by the great white sharks it was stalking. While several of those instances were predatory attacks, the sharks also interacted with the robot, named REMUS, by charging it and testing it with exploratory bites.

As Wired points out, undersea cables are becoming increasingly more important to Google’s network. Two major cables provide internet connection between the western US and Asia, while a third expands Google’s network within Asia. Shark bites are a surprisingly resurgent problem for these submarine cables, according to a report from the International Cable Protection Committee. Cables were severed four times in the 1980s; each instance was blamed on crocodile sharks after teeth were discovered by researchers.

Exactly why sharks are biting the internet cables isn’t exactly clear, although the report states that powerful “electromagnetic fields from a suspended cable strumming in currents” may cause the reaction. Sharks are able to sense electromagnetic fields, as a method of detecting prey. Chris Lowe, of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, posits that the animals are likely curious, although with stern consequences. “Just a little bite is enough to get through the jacket, damage the fibers and then you’re screwed,” he claims.

Thanks to their Kevlar armor, Google’s fiber optic cables are ready to keep the internet safe, even from sharks.

[Image via Slate]