shark week

January 13, 2009

It’s summer in Australia and there have been an unusual number of shark attacks clustered together. Time ran a short piece with comments from shark scientists about why some of the explanations being bandied about don’t really hold water. They also point out that more people are going into the water and they’re swimming in more areas than in the past – putting more people into contact with more sharks. The claims of commercial fishermen – that environmental protections on sharks are causing them to multiply rapidly – are easily debunked by noting that the species in question has few young and takes 20 years to reach maturity, the very reasons they’ve been protected in the first place. The article also refutes the idea that a shark develops a taste for human flesh or learns to hunt humans. Despite all of this level-headed reporting, the article bears the sensationalistic headline, “Sharks Rampage in Australia’.

To learn more about shark attacks, I recommend the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

I’m fascinated by this chart: A Comparison with the Number of Injuries Associated with Home-Improvement Equipment. People had a lot of accidents involving toilets (43,687) and toilet-bowl products (1,567) in the year surveyed than I’d ever imagined. Number of shark-related injuries or deaths for that year in the United States: 13. Not that I spend a lot of time imagining toilet-related home improvement injuries. Still, I’m surprised that toilet-related injuries outnumbered chainsaws (13,458) so dramatically. I suppose people are more cautious when operating a chainsaw than when installing a toilet.

I checked the Consumer Product Safety Commission site to see if some of these accidents might have been drownings, but they don’t. “CPSC has received reports of 16 children under age 5 who drowned in toilets between 1996 and 1999.”

Check out the University of Florida’s Ichthyology site. It’s much more interesting than the CPSC, and significantly less disturbing. Although these images of a shark leaping out of the water near these surfers at New Smyrna beach might give you pause.

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January 13, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

“I suppose people are more cautious when operating a chainsaw than when installing a toilet.”

Well, a chainsaw has more dangerous-looking moving parts. What, that handle is gonna hurt you?

January 13, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

My thinking, exactly. I suppose maybe these are all accidents from dropping them on their feet? *shrug*