Sharks and their infamous role in telecommunications

Thankfully, MetroNet doesn’t have to worry about this. While our all fiber network does extend to Florida and provides our world-class communications services to the lucky businesses of Tallahassee, it’s a good 30-minute drive to the nearest body of saltwater. While the enemy of fiber optic cabling on land is the dreaded backhoe—or anything that shovels up the ground—one of its most noteworthy enemies at sea, along with earthquakes and ship anchors, is the shark.

If you’re accessing a website in another continent or calling your kid who’s studying abroad, your voice or data is traveling across fiber optic cabling dropped on the ocean floor. If you’ve never seen how it’s deployed, it is fascinating. There are huge, cable-laying vessels that maintain large spools of fiber optic cables. As the vessel progresses, the spool unwinds, dropping the cable to the ocean floor. It almost sounds cartoonish. Here’s something else that sounds like something you’d see on The Cartoon Network—a shark gnawing and tugging at a high-speed network that has invaded its space.

Thanks to the magic of Kevlar—or a similar material that makes it so invincible—new transoceanic fiber routes are being sheathed in it. Note the word “new”. There are currently about 800,000 miles of fiber strewn about in Earth’s oceans, seas, and gulfs. Trying to retrofit all that fiber with an impenetrable cover would be crazy expensive and, well, just plain crazy.

In the event you think fiber optics tastes good, it doesn’t—well, it probably doesn’t. Nobody knows for sure why it’s so taste-tempting to sharks, but it’s widely believed they attack it due to the electromagnetic fields they emit. Apparently, this confuses the shark’s sensors that they use to detect prey.