Man-eating sharks may have met their match in a special wetsuit that according to its creators makes swimmers invisible.

Dubbed the "Warning" and "Cryptic" wetsuits, the outfits are so garish that most people would probably never wear them out of the water.

But inventors in western Australia are confident they mark a whole new era, by drastically cutting the chance of sharks mistaking swimmers and surfers for a favourite meal - a fat seal.

Behind the technology is how sharks see in the water, claimed the inventors at Shark Attack Mitigation Systems. No invisibility technology is used by the wetsuits - but they said the effect was the same - with a few reservations.

The website cautions: "We can never be 100% sure, however with the science behind the suits the chance of an attack should be reduced."

Sharks see in black and white and not colour, relying on shades of grey to perceive the underwater world. The revolutionary wetsuits work by scrambling a shark's visual sense in the final seconds as it closes in for the kill.

A wetsuit for divers helps the wearer blend into the background in the water, making them harder to spot.

Swimmers in a Cryptic wetsuit will be the same colours as the water in wave patterns in blue, grey and white - rendering them invisible to a shark.

Surfers above have been recommended Warning suits, which come in not-so fetching black and white stripes - a traditional warning pattern in nature. The theory is the shark will see something potentially poisonous.

Cryptic wetsuit
Cryptic wetsuit

One of the suits' developers, Craig Anderson, said: "It's based on new breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for predatory sharks.

"We've been able to interpret that science and convert it into materials that create confusion for sharks' visual systems."

Shaun Collin, a researcher at the University of Western Australia researcher, added: "The idea is to reduce the risk of the wearer in certain conditions.

"Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals - prey that provides a signal that somehow says, 'Don't eat me',- and that has been manifested in a striped pattern.

"We are using a lot of nature's technology based on high-contrast banding patterns."