Google is wrapping its fiber-optic cables that cross the Pacific Ocean in Kevlar — and according to one Google exec, it is doing so partly to protect them from sharks that may mistake them for dinner.
The report stems from last week’s Google Cloud Roadshow event in Boston, where Google product manager Dan Belcher talked about shark-proof cable tactics in the opening keynote. Sharks are supposedly attracted to the magnetic fields surrounding the cables, interpreting them as a sign of struggling fish.
But some other outlets have called bull shark on the claims, saying that stories of the creatures biting through a cable are outdated and that improved cable structure and building materials have long since eradicated the problem.
A spokesperson for Google could not confirm that Belcher talked in detail about sharks, but told Mashable the information about protection from sharks was still accurate from Google’s standpoint.
The company offered this response to the claims in a tweet Thursday:
— A Googler (@google) August 14, 2014
Approximately 70% of all damage to cables is caused by “external aggression,” the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) says on its website. This term refers to objects like boats or fishing nets that could mutilate cables.
For this reason, the wiring is protected by a polyethylene casing and in some cases, extra steel reinforcements are added. Some cables are even buried beneath the ocean floor for extra safety.
The ICPC says most reports of shark damage to cabling came during the late 1980s in the waters off the Canary Islands, when several sharks penetrated a cable using their teeth. However, the organization said theories that the attacks were caused by attraction to electromagnetic fields produced by the cables had not be proven true by further tests.
Here’s footage of a shark gnawing on a cable:
Google is adding a stronger underwater cable — known as FASTER — that will run between the West Coast of the U.S. and parts of Japan to provide better Internet access to Asia.
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