Google wraps its underwater fiber cables in Kevlar material, at least in part to protect against shark attacks, an official with the company said recently.
The issue of sharks attacking underwater cables dates back decades. In 1989 the New York Times reported instances of sharks showing an “inexplicable taste” for the then-new fiber optic cables that lay between the U.S. and Europe.
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.
Why are sharks attracted to fiber cables? The website oAfrica, which tracks digital news on the continent, theorized in 2009 that perhaps the emission of electricity from the fiber cables may attract the sharks, who mistake the currents for prey.
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.