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Abalone net used by divers

Date: 1975
Dimensions:
Overall: 540 x 700 x 50 mm
Medium: Nylon, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Net
Object No: 00051992
Place Manufactured:Port Lincoln

User Terms

    Description
    This motorised shark cage called an Ab-mariner, was used by divers in the abalone industry. This unit was the first working model designed and built in Australia, by Ray Edwards at Port Lincoln, South Australia. Edwards designed the Ab-mariner in 1975, for use in his abalone harvesting business as a protection against shark attacks.
    SignificanceThis Ab-mariner highlights the dangers and the commercial pressures of the abalone industry.
    HistoryAbalone are marine gastropods (snails) living along the rocky shore often in deep crevices. They cling to rocks with their very strong foot or abductor muscle and have a single, hard, saucer-shaped shell for protection. They feed on marine algae. The most commercially important are the black-lip abalone, while the green-lip are favoured for their white flesh.

    Divers work in cold waters around Australia's southern coasts prying abalone from rocks with a knife or abalone iron. The pressure to gather the most abalone means that some divers work to depths and for periods exceeding safety limits.

    South Australian waters are home to the feared great white shark. As a result of some close calls in the 1970s, a number of abalone divers built self-propelled underwater shark cages. This prototype aluminium cage was built in 1975 by Port Lincoln divers Ray Edwards and Jim Ellis. It has a forward mounted rudder with an attached propeller powered by compressed air. The diver inside it can work close to the sea bed in complete safety from sharks.

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