My odds of being killed by a shark in Malaysia

August 10, 2013

After one more week of teaching summer classes, I’ll be taking a week-long vacation to Malaysia. This will be my first time visiting a country in Asia other than South Korea. I’m going with two good friends, and I’m really looking forward to it.

However, I’m also a little apprehensive. The plan is to spend a lot of time hanging out on the beach and swimming in the ocean, and like every sensible human being, I’m afraid of being killed by a shark. For one thing, I’m not a gifted swimmer. I plan to be doing a lot of helpless flailing, and there’s nothing that provokes more contempt in a shark than a poor swimmer. Sharks are proud, haughty animals, and as the ocean’s apex predators, they often kill lousy swimmers simply out of distain, or to demonstrate their aquatic superiority. Also, having noticeable tan lines and light, highly-reflective skin has been known to attract sharks, and I will undoubtedly be the palest, most hilariously tan-lined creature splashing around helplessly in the Indian Ocean.

With those thoughts in mind, and after doing five minutes of research and making some preposterous assumptions and almost certainly some egregious mathematical errors, I’ve concluded that my odds of being killed by a shark are terrifyingly high. While reading this article and being disappointed to discover that my odds of seeing mermaids in Malaysia are zero percent, I also learned that as an American, my odds of being killed by a shark are around 1 in 3.8 million. This was presented as an exceedingly small chance, but to me it actually seems high. After all, how many Americans go swimming in the ocean? Not very many! We tend to be a sedentary lot, and swimming doesn’t play a large role in our national cultural heritage.

So, based on those statistics and my failings as a smooth swimmer and a tanned person, I’ve concluded that my odds of being killed by a shark in Malaysia are approximately 1 in 10.

However, those are just my odds of suffering a fatal shark attack. Only about 20% of shark attacks are deadly, so my overall odds of being attacked by a shark while vacationing in Malaysia are approximately 5 in 10, or 50%.

If I make it back alive, I’ll update this post with photos of my gruesome shark attack injuries. Stay tuned!


One Response to “My odds of being killed by a shark in Malaysia”

  1. jon said

    Hey Lyndon,

    If you don’t get gored by a shark which you undoubtedly will), you want to trade links?


    jon boisvert

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