The Doctor Gruber and the Shark Repellant Story
Written 08/24/2016 Unedited
In the 1990’s I had a company called API Marine, we sold remanufactured marine alternators and starter.
We had representatives and distributors selling our products throughout the entire United States.
I had a very dear friend named Richard, Richard knew the marine industry inside and out, and at one time or another Richard had worked at and done just about everything in the marine industry.
Richard had a very good friend, named Dr. Sonny Gruber, You can usually see Dr. Gruber on television, as he is the world’s ultimate authority on Lemon Sharks. Dr. Gruber runs a shark institute on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. He is a professor at the University of Miami, and students and scientists from all over the world come to Dr. Gruber’s shark instate to learn about sharks. So, whenever there is a Florida television program about sharks, they usually interview Dr. Gruber in Bimini.
Running the shark institute is quite a task, and requires a lot of work, as everything they need, has to come over by boat from Miami. My friend Richard, always made time to help Dr. Gruber, he did it by finding him inexpensive boats to ferry supplies from Miami. Richard usually went along on many of the supply trips with Dr. Gruber. So that’s how I met Dr. Sonny Gruber, it was when Richard brought him over to meet me.
One day Richard tells me the following story. He said that Dr. Gruber, early in his career, like most all professors do, he was always seeking government grants. Dr. Gruber said the government had many subjects that they were interested in doing research on, and all the professors have access to the list. If they see something they are interested in they can write up a proposal, and if it is accepted, the government will give them a financial grant to do the research.
Dr. Gruber saw that the government was looking to solve a problem, sharks were attacking the sonar array that is towed behind all our military submarines.
Dr. Gruber knew that there was a fish living in the Red Sea, called the Moses Soul Fish, and sharks just won’t eat them. Dr. Gruber felt that the fish has some kind of natural anti-shark chemical in it, so he suggested that he be given a grant to study what the chemical was. The government must have liked his idea as he received a grant to move to Israel with his family for two years and study the Moses Soul fish in the Red Sea. After the two years, Dr. Gruber had indeed extracted the shark repelling chemical and synthesized it. All the information was given to the government and Dr. Gruber never heard any more about it.
One evening many years later, Dr. Gruber and Richard were sitting on the beach in Bimini, and Sonny Gruber told Richard the story.
Richard became excited, he said that everyone in the marine industry wanted a shark repellant, so he asked Dr. Gruber to contact the Navy to find out what happened to the anti-shark chemical Gruber had synthesized.
Dr. Gruber received a reply, that because the chemical had to pass through the sharks gills to be effective, the
Navy couldn’t use it and Dr. Gruber could do whatever he wanted with it. Richard was ecstatic, he wanted to set up a company right away to market the shark repellant, and that’s when I came into the picture.
Richard came to me, and he was very excited, he said everyone wanted a shark repellant and he had the exclusive rights to market Dr. Gruber’s shark repelling chemical. Richard said that with the API Marine distribution network we could market the shark repellant to every marine dealer and dive shop in the United States. Richard was sure it was going to be a financial success. He said everyone had been looking for a shark repellant ever since WWII, when pilots that crashed In the Pacific were attacked by sharks before they could be rescued.
I asked Richard how Dr. Gruber’s shark repellant worked, and Richard said the chemical needed to pass through the sharks gills, it irritated the sharks gills, so it would immediately swim away.
I gave it some thought, it all sounded too impractical to me, how would someone ever squirt the chemical in a shark’s mouth so it would pass over its gills. Richard said that was no problem as he unfolded a set of detailed drawings of a compressed air gun that could shoot the repellant underwater. I could see Richard had put a lot of time and hard work into designing the shark repellant gun. The drawings were highly technical and all done in color. The repellant was in a cartridge and placed in the gun, and a small compressed gas cylinder was also inserted. The gun could be used several times before the compressed air cartridge needed to be replaced. I couldn’t believe that Richard actually thought someone would or could shoot this thing into a shark’s mouth.
Richard was very excited, he said we could sell the repellant and gun to the life raft manufacturers they could put one in with each raft. I said, how could people sitting in a life raft ever use it, as it needed to be shot into the shark’s mouth. Richard said we could put a set of underwater goggles in with each kit, and he was serious.
I tried to calm Richard down, I said, Richard, I think Dr. Gruber’s shark repellant is worthless, no one would have the nerve to get in the water with sharks to squirt it in their mouths.
I think Richard was starting to realize that what I was saying was true, so he said, well, we can sell it to Dive shops. Scuba divers are in the water anyway and they would have no problem squirting the chemical in a shark’s mouth. Well I had to agree with Richard on that point, so I made a phone call to one of our sales representatives that also called on dive shops, and I introduced him to Richard. Richard asked if the salesman could sell the shark repellant to dive shops.
The salesman said, “NO Way”, He said scuba divers love sharks, that’s why they dive in the first place, they want to attract sharks, not scare them away.Several months later I read that someone had invented a shark repellant that you wore like a belt, and it slowly dissolved in the water and chased the sharks away. That invention sounded a little more practical, Richard must have read about it also, as he never mentioned Dr. Gruber’s shark repellant to me again.