Shark Repellent

In Batman: Arkham City the Penguin has a pet shark, a byproduct of having taken over the Gotham City Museum of Natural History (which features an aquarium and a Gotham-sized shark tank). It’s not clear whether the now ironic name Tiny was issued by the museum staff or by Penguin, himself. Perhaps he was small as a juvenile.

Tiny is a massive Jaws-sized great white (that is eight-plus meters long), and Penguin has taken to feeding him failed henchmen and captured enemies. The tank is partially frozen over, and Batman has to navigate the tank by raft, or crossing carefully on thin ice.

At the time I was playing this level, I decided I would be very disappointed if there wasn’t a proper nod to shark repellent and its notable appearance in the 1966 Batman Adam West vehicle. In the movie, the Shark Repellent Bat Spray was among several chemical responses to dangerous oceanic fauna, a nod to just how crazy prepared Batman can be.

I never did find a reference to Shark Repellent in the game.

It turns out the nod was there, but only slight. It appears as a rare post-mortem hint in case of a NSGO in which Tiny eats Batman. I missed it and remained disappointed.

But the original intent was to include something more. The original BAC script called for Batman to actually have shark repellent spray and use it to dissuade Tiny. The bit got cut out during development.

While shark repellent spray was appropriate for Batman circa 1966, Batman in the new century would probably consider a different solution for keeping away sharks. Real divers have real uses for shark repellent devices and so a lot of science has been put into how to not get mistaken for a seal.

As sharks are sensitive to magnetic fields, we’ve developed suits that use permanent magnets to disorient sharks and manta-rays (they both have the same susceptibility). For those who don’t want to wear an entire suit of magnets, small electromagnetic cuffs are available that create a large enough field with battery power. An electromagnetic anti-shark field generator would probably come standard on the Batsuit these days.

If Batman wanted to get fancy (and why not, since he’s a billionaire) Waynetech could coat the Batsuit with an electropositive surface. Such a coating would generate a live current in saltwater, not enough to be dangerous, but enough to dissuade sharks.

On the other hand, the sprays that have been developed would serve better for rescuing others. Anti-shark sprays circa 1966 didn’t work very well (without Waynetech developing something special) but contemporary ones are much more effective.

Spray is misleading. It’s not projected like an aerosol gun, but creates a large cloud like a smoke grenade. It’s a spray the way an octopus’ ink projection might be a spray.

Shark repellent is made of processed rotten dead shark extract, or simulated dead shark extract when we don’t have conveniently dead sharks. The specific semiochemical (signal chemicals, of which mating pheromones are a subset) that tells a shark this area is where shark corpses go to rot is isolated and concentrated, and then spray bombs are filled with the stuff. One such device will drive sharks away for a quarter nautical mile, and they’ll stay away for almost an hour. Plenty of time for Batman to rescue shark-bait hostages.

On the other hand, these devices are meant for use in the open ocean. Dropped into the Tiny’s shark tank, he would be stuck in horribly stinky water until the water pumps filtered it all out again.

Poor Tiny.


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