Do Stingrays like Linkin Park? Why We Needed to Find Out
When you think of Linkin Park you probably imagine powerful rock. The last thing you’d probably imagine is a couple of folks from the DragonSkin Team seeing if it scares away stingrays in a baby pool. However, that’s exactly what we tried…among many other things!
When we started DragonSkin, we didn’t set out necessarily to make booties. Rather, our goal was to answer - ‘how can we best protect people from stingrays?’. We tried to break away from any preconceived notions on stingray protection.
That’s how we found ourselves playing Linkin Park into a baby pool with a pair of round rays in it. In that specific test, we wanted to see if loud sounds, in a special playlist playfully named ‘scary stingray sounds’, would keep them away. Unfortunately, it turns out that stingrays are pretty indifferent to Linkin Park. But it certainly would have been cool to see a stingray jamming to the tunes.
Playing music from a speaker in the water
This isn’t the only strange thing we tried throughout our research and development process. We thought it would be fun to share some of the other whacky things we’ve tried along our journey towards stingray protection.
Pee-ew! - Stinky Aromas?
It turns out that stingrays’ sense of smell is one of the most important senses they have for survival and reproduction. That made us think - could we deter stingrays with an underwater scent? That’s where we pulled out the spices. We tried to create a variety of different scents underwater to see if any of them might keep stingrays away. But, similar to the music, we found stingrays to be pretty indifferent to our spice repertoire.
An Invisible Force - Magnets Underwater
One of stingrays’ superpowers is they have the ability to detect the electrical signals of their predators and prey alike. They have special organs called Ampullae of Lorenzini which detect these very faint signals and alert them where to go (or where not to!). We hypothesized that we might be able to use magnets to create a magnetic field that scares away stingrays, as if there was a predator nearby. That’s how we found ourselves waving a magnet around on a stick to see if anything happened. Unfortunately this invisible force had an invisible effect - no impact on the stingray’s behavior!
Steel wool - repurposing dish cleaning to stingray protection?
With deterrent tests falling flat, we started exploring making booties with stingray resistant material. We knew it would be tough though. Materials that would be resistant to a stingray sting tend to be unstretchy and inflexible, but booties need to fit closely and move with the wearer’s foot. How were we supposed to balance that?
We started by experimenting with a wide range of materials. Some of the more interesting ones we tried include:
- Silly putty
- Stainless steel mesh and silicone epoxy
- Custom chainmail
- Steel wool
- Dryer lint
Testing steel wool in our stingray resistant booties
Some of these materials showed promise, but unfortunately, each had at least one Achilles Heel. For example, although basically all metal rusts in sea water, steel wool rusts particularly quickly. It was literally turning to dust just hours after coming out of the water. Needless to say, this wasn’t what we were going for.
When life gives you…eggplants?
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what do you do if life gives you eggplants?
You use them as a flesh analogue to test the depth of stingray barb penetration, obviously! When testing stingray penetration force, we had to come up with something for the stingray to sting (other than us, of course!). We ended up coming up with multiple solutions, and one of them was an eggplant. There were a few reasons we did this! The eggplant texture had a good resemblance to human skin and flesh. And further, when an eggplant is stung, it’s easier to see the hole than in many other materials we tried.
We never imagined the wild things we would do in our question for optimal stingray protection. In the end, we worked hard to make something people would love. You can see the final result in our stingray resistant bootie collection.