Shark Research Institute (Australia)
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Mis quoted statistics

We publish this here because we couldn't stand the constant garbage statistics quoted on web sites and newspapers. The following list is based on written papers we have. on file.
We have so many stats backing the following article up, but we decided to just keep it a simple as possible. We don't have an axe to grind, it just started from our investigators constantly reading these "STATS" used as shark attack page fillers. The sad thing is, even government agencies use these same stats!,....".Journalists.....Do your own research, don't just throw us the same lines every time" For example, the stat of 150 cocnut deaths a year, was derived from a probability of death if the whole world lived in close proximity to palm trees, and assumed we all claimed the trees for a living. (Injurys included falling out of the trees, trees falling over etc)

Coconut deaths

For years scientists and journalists have been saying you have a better chance of getting killed by a coconut falling on your head than a shark. (It's actually reverse) For example... "Falling coconuts kill 150 people worldwide each year, 15 times the number of fatalities attributable to sharks." In all fairness, most of these figures can be traced back to a report that came out from a U.K. travel insurance company, who, In turn quoted their figures from an Australian web, based on trees being uprooted., etc, etc, etc It was used so the insurance company would cover you for coconut damage, if you travelled with then to PNG. Sounds fair enough, and would be useful coverage.

In actuality, here is the basis of all coconut death stats

1) Article by Dr. Peter Barss in the Journal of Trauma entitled "Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts." (The article received an Ig Nobel Prize, given annually at Harvard by the editors of the Annals of Improbable Research in recognition of research that "cannot or should not be replicated." The award was presented in 2001, notwithstanding that the paper had been published in 1984. ( nine injuries in Papua New Guinea due to falling coconuts, none fatal. Barss notes that a coconut palm tree commonly reaches 25 meters in height, that a coconut can weigh two kilograms or more, and that a two-kilogram coconut falling 25 meters would have a velocity of 80 kilometers per hour on impact and a force of as much as 1,000 kilograms. Several victims suffered fractured skulls, were rendered comatose, etc. When we read the article, it said 9, not a 150!

He provides an anecdotal account of one such death and in a separate paper estimates that over a four-year period five deaths in his hospital's service area were related to coconut palm trees (including climbers falling out of them). A recent report (Mulford et al, "Coconut Palm-Related Injuries in the Pacific Islands," ANZ Journal of Surgery, January 2001), which describes itself as "the largest review of coconut-palm related injuries," also reports no deaths and on the question of mortality merely cites Barss. Given that Barss' hospital in Papua New Guinea served a population of 130,000, one conceivably could project 150 deaths over that portion of the world population living in proximity to coconut palm trees, but I'm not aware of any systematic attempt to do so. Noting that death reports in tropical countries are limited, Barss tells me, "I am surprised that someone has come up with an actual number for such injuries. It must be a crude estimate, and you would have to ask them what methodology they used to verify whether it has any validity." Conclusion: Somebody pulled the figure about 150 deaths due to coconuts out of thin air.

Lightning deaths:

Again, we have many stats on this one. -- Statistically, lightning poses a greater threat to individuals than most other natural hazards.  On average, it causes 5 to 10 deaths and over 100 injuries in Australia each year.  These deaths include industrial, indirect hits, boats hit by thunderstorm squalls, tree limbs falling on people, buildings damaged, debris hurled about in high winds etc.

The above stat, allbeit an Australian one, still includes all lightning or lightning related deaths and not actual ldirect lightning strikes on an individual.  One of our investigators is actually one of these stats. He was having coffee outside when lightning struck 20 feet away. He jumped back, struck his head and became an official lightning stat. (On file)

Australian Government - Attorney-General's Department

Wet suit colours:

we have many E-mails asking "Is it true that you have more chance of being attacked by a shark if you have a black wetsuit on".." the stats say, there is"
We say, most attacks do ocur  to those in black wetsuits. We also say, 99.9% of all wetsuits sold are mostly black. So this figure really doesnt mean anything at all. Saying you have a 99.9% less chance if you wear an orange wetsuit  would be true based on would also be a stupid statistic, but makes the seller of orange wetsuits happy.

The real number of shark attacks around the world are so under quoted. Even our own files are lacking.  I am aware of attacks in my home town, from when I was a child. I have never seen the attack recorded. I can't record it myself on our files, because there is no proof that we can find, other than the fact  I was surfing in the area and saw the bite marks on the surfboard. I have no names etc.

Send us an E-mail if you want info on other misquoted stats.