Shearwater Webbed Paddles – A Unique Concept in Biomimicry

We recently were contacted by one of our customers – Chad Townsend of Banff, Canada – after shipping a demo AdvancedFrame for his paddling adventures in Europe. Through our emailed conversations, he eventually shared an interesting project he had been working on for years – the Shearwater Webbed Paddle.

The Shearwater is a unique, collapsible, and custom water sport paddle that can be assembled quickly. It has been designed for kayak, canoes and SUPs, wholly inspired by the webbed feet of swimming birds. When collapsed, Shearwater paddles fit in a 3″ (8cm) wide tube. According to Chad, when assembled, the Shearwater behaves in the water much like rigid recreational paddles, but with less disturbance than most. Options also include the use of recycled PVC materials, like event banners.

What is so inspiring is the practical application of ‘biomimicry’ which copies nature’s engineering and efficiencies, a concept which we at AirKayaks have been very much involved with (see info at bottom).

According to Wikipedia, biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements in order to solve human problems sustainably through emulation or inspiration.

The Shearwater idea first came to Chad while a university student, but the project was shelved for a few years with start-up costs, full-time work, and other life commitments. A recent relocation temporarily landed him in Germany and provided the time to re-address the Shearwater concept.

The first hurdle was to make the Shearwater accessible, which entails specialized tooling and initial orders for material components. To do this, Chad decided to post his project on

Based on the same concept as, allows inventors, fund-raisers and everyday people to raise money for projects from the public. In Chad’s case, by offering enough pre-sold webbed kayak, canoe and SUP paddles, he will raise the $3000 needed to manufacture tooling. But, if the specified goal of $3000 is not reached, all pledged money is refunded.

Watch Chad’s video on the concept at – possibly you will be inspired enough to preorder one of his Shearwater canoe, kayak or SUP paddles. At the very least, for a mere $5 you can be part of the entrepreneurial project and be kept informed.

As mentioned above, my husband and I have been involved in our own biomimicry project at Clarks Island, a local community park which has one aspect featuring recycled plastic floating island/wetlands to reduce nutrient loading. Future interpretive signage will educate the public on water quality, algae issues and health of our lake. Chad’s project may inspire us to try an Indiegogo fundraiser also! See our Facebook page on Clarks Island at

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