Wonkblog: Research

A shark attack probably won’t kill you, and other lessons from the science of the beach

Memorial Day serves as the unofficial start of summer for most of
You’d probably survive an encounter with this shark. (PASCAL GERAGHTY - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
America, with many trekking out to the beach and soaking up some sun. Here at Wonkblog, we’re taking a different sort of trip: a journey through the science of a visit to the beach. It’s not quite seaside reading, but scientists have learned a decent amount about how we change when we’re close to water. So, without further ado, here are a few of their most choice findings.

1. If you get attacked by a shark, you’ll probably live. It’s a bit terrifying that fatalities from from shark attacks hit a 20-year high in 2011, with 12 people across the world dying from encounters with the animals. American tourists can rest slightly assured though, that all of those shark-related fatalities were outside the United States. And, in general, shark attacks actually aren’t fatal. A 2001 review of 86 cases found that 81 percent of those attacked suffered only minor injuries that required “a simple, primary suture,” the researchers said. Take that, Jaws.

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