A world-first "invisibility cloak" to protect surfers from sharks has been launched in Western Australia, the scene of five fatal attacks in recent years.

Scientists from the University of WA, with designers Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS), have unveiled two new wetsuits that they say could save lives in the water.

Based on a breakthrough discovery that sharks are colour blind, one wetsuit, labelled the "Elude", is designed to camouflage a swimmer or diver in the sea.

At the other extreme, the "Diverter" sports bold white and dark blue stripes, and is intended to mirror nature's warning signs to ward off any potential shark attack.

More than two years in development, the suits, which retail at $495, went on sale via online distributor Radiator on Wednesday.

And Shaun Collin, from UWA's Ocean Institute, said they had used a mix of scientific discoveries and observations about nature to come up with warning suit designs aimed at reducing the risk to swimmers, surfers and divers.

"The idea is to reduce the risk of the wearer in certain conditions," Professor Collin said.

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

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

"The wearer will be obvious, and the idea is the shark will see that as an unpalatable food item and swim right by."

The five fatal attacks in WA waters in just under 12 months, which earned WA the unwelcome tag of shark attack capital of the world, prompted the research into the suits more than two years ago.

The designs have been tested in the water with tiger sharks, but not on humans, mainly in waters off the northern WA coast near Ningaloo Reef.

Testing will continue this summer with great white sharks in the waters off South Australia and South Africa.

Hamish Jolly, from SAMS, said the results so far warranted the suits going on sale immediately.

"We now know what these big predatory sharks can see, and what we have done is convert that science into a marketable technology," Mr Jolly said.

"We have converted that into patents that we know will hide or present (wearers) as not shark food."

The suits are to feature on a National Geographic documentary, Australia's Deadliest: Shark Coast to be screened next week.

 

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