Google using Kevlar-like material to protect its undersea fiber cables from damage caused by sharks and other stressors.
At the Google Cloud Platform Developer Roadshow in Boston, product manager on the Google cloud team Dan Belcher announced Google’s initiative to protect its underwater fiber cables in the Pacific Ocean, detailing how they’re using Kevlar-like material in anticipation of many damage sources, one of which include shark attacks.
Reports of sharks attacking cables come in as early as the 1980s where shark bites were found on cables in the Canary Islands, but understading why sharks attacked said cables has not been conclusive. One theory is that sharks are attracted to the electromagnetic fields produced by the cables, but a report from the International Cable Protection Committee also makes mention of cable smells and color as probable causes.
In any case, a majority of damage caused on underwater cables actually comes from ship anchors and fishing trawlers, but a Google spokesperson did tell Vice that, “All submarine equipment providers support a variety of cables with different degrees of hardening that depend on the cable depth, and protect against a number of external aggressors like ship anchors/trawlers/fishing, seabed corrosion, and yes, even sharks.”
Tim Stronge, a cable expert from TeleGeography, viewed the video attached to this article of a shark biting on an underwater cable and states, “It seems legit to me but who knows what type of cable that is.” The video is also from 2010, “… before Google owned any undersea internet infrastructure.”
Google currently co-owns up to 5,000 miles of fibre-optic wiring in the Pacific. Google has just announced its partnership with five other telecommunications companies to create a Trans-Pacific cable system called “FASTER” for high-speed internet purposes.