Marine Evening 27 Oct: The application of Bio Mimicry by Mike Barron

November 02, 2015 by dyertrust

Mike Barron has recently joined our tourism partner's team at Marine Dynamics as Marine Biologist andguideon the shark cage diving vessel, Slashfin. Mike is also busy with his Masters Degree lookinginto the effects of visual sign stimuli on white shark behaviour He has been involved in the Marine biology industry for over 6 years.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Mike decided to make South Africa his home in order to follow hispassion for the amazing wildlife Africa has to offer. Mikes main interest is marineconservation, specifically shark behaviour.

Bio mimicry is the observational science of studying natures amazing and ingenious adaptations to their surrounding environment and using them to create innovative, sustainable approaches to everyday life in the human world.

Specialised adaptations can be seen everywhere in the natural world. The most common example of Bio mimicry is often the story ofSwiss electrical engineer George de Mestral. After returning from walking his dog one afternoon, he noticed hundreds of small seeds stuck to his dogs fur and wondered how they had attached. After examining the seeds with a microscope he noticed that the seeds were covered in tiny looped threads, and the dogs fur acted as a hook preventing the seed from just falling off.

The plant from which the seeds came from have evolved this technique of attaching their seeds to furry animals which brush past the plants, in order to be spread the seeds greater distances.

George called this the hook and loop technique and by the late 1950s had patented and started manufacturing this idea as the product we all know today as Velcro. The name originates from a combination of the French words velours (velvet) and crochet (hook).

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Another example of product development through the science of bio mimicry is artificial shark skin. This product mimics the dermal denticles found on sharks bodies. Sharks have evolved these specialized scales in order to move more efficiently through the water and prevent fouling on their skin. Artificial shark skin is now used to increase fuel efficiency on large vessels such as cargo ships, and studies have also shown that this product can reduce bio fouling and bacteria build up by 80%, and is now being issued to hospitals in order to prevent the spread of disease.

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Bio mimicry is an incredibly interesting and important science for creating more sustainable and environmentally friendly products and technologies. Plants and animals have adapted to their environment over millions of years of evolution, and by observing their specialised adaptations we can solve many of our own problems in a much shorter time scale.