Falling Coconuts Kill More People Than Shark Attacks
May 25, 2002 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Falling Coconuts Kill More People Than Shark Attacks

Does anyone remember the media generated shark attack hysteria hype from last summer? It turns out that a lot more people get killed every year by falling coconuts. Ow!
posted by mark13 (20 comments total)
The next time I see a coconut tree in an airport I'll be sure to keep my eye on it.
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:58 PM on May 25, 2002

Shark With Coconut Attacks Three.
posted by LinusMines at 5:20 PM on May 25, 2002

I wonder where he gets his statistics? Is there something like a world database of fruit-and-nut-associated fatalities? Or did he just pull this number out of his butt?
posted by norm29 at 5:31 PM on May 25, 2002

Better the numbers than the coconut, I always say...

(Ok, I've never said that...but it seemed like a darned good time to start. :)
posted by dejah420 at 5:38 PM on May 25, 2002

Can I interest anyone in a gigantic erotic coconut?
posted by groundhog at 5:58 PM on May 25, 2002

Tonight on Fox: When Coconuts Attack.
I'm sorry, it had to be done.

Seriously, It's not like there's a world cocnut fatality database. Even if there was, I doubt it would make a distinction between tree-based coconut incidents and those bad days at the loading dock when the crane op sneezes and drops half a ton of imported coconuts on a minivan full of soccer children.

I think it'd be safer to do the trusty old "stairs" comparison. ie: more people are killed falling down stairs, etc.
posted by fnord_prefect at 7:48 PM on May 25, 2002

... but what was the airspeed of the swallow which carried the coconuts?
posted by nathan_teske at 9:02 PM on May 25, 2002

It would not be all that difficult to get the information from hospitals and medical examiners in places where there are a lot of coconut trees.
posted by Nothing at 9:52 PM on May 25, 2002

Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
posted by shinybeast at 11:35 PM on May 25, 2002

African of European?

*puffs feathers over knowledge of common migratory birds*
posted by a_green_man at 1:03 AM on May 26, 2002

Because I'm deathly afraid of falling coconuts, I dug a bit deeper into the subject... Here's the press release from Club Direct, a British travel insurer, that seems to have started the ball rolling. In the press release, they reference the "impactful medical report" by Peter Barss - 'Injuries due to Falling Coconuts' - which received (unjustly, in my opinion) a 2001 Ig Noble award.
posted by shinybeast at 2:18 AM on May 26, 2002

Well I know what I'd rather be killed by.
posted by crayfish at 3:50 AM on May 26, 2002

I believe people's interest in shark attacks stems not from the numbers, but from the visceral idea of being torn limb from limb by something with really sharp teeth.

As such, yes, it's misleading vividness, but you're never going to sell TIME magazine using coconut deaths.
posted by dhartung at 3:54 AM on May 26, 2002

and harry belanfonte sang:

coconut woman is calling out
and everyday you can hear her shout
coconut woman is calling out
and everyday you can hear her shout

coconut is a-fallin', four or five
best watch out for your noggin', stay alive...

posted by bwg at 3:57 AM on May 26, 2002

I bet that these two sorts of deaths are not statistically independent, but that the sort of person who is more likely than average to be killed by a falling coconut is also more likely to be eaten by a shark. Lolling about on beaches, not paying attention, just asking to be gobbled by a great white or conked by a coconut. (The chances that I will die of either are as close to zero as chances can get.)
posted by pracowity at 4:28 AM on May 26, 2002

Doesn't the 11-item list on shark safety undercut the point that they're not really a big deal to worry about? I'll worry more about coconuts when I have to take that many precautions to avoid them.
posted by rcade at 5:17 AM on May 26, 2002

Apparently, most of the injuries are due to people falling out of trees, not the coconuts. See here, here, and here.

I don't think they considered this one as part of the study, however. (See second item on page.)

We have lots of coconut trees 'round these parts, I've never heard of anyone being hit by one, but I've seen dents in cars from them. I don't park under them, especially on windy days. Also, Royal Palms have fronds that weigh about 100 pounds, and they all fall off eventually.
posted by groundhog at 5:59 AM on May 26, 2002

When I was in Belize, a falling coconut missed me by a few inches.

A couple of days later, we were scuba diving at night with some nurse sharks. Which pretty well proves pracowity's point.

The adrenaline rush from the falling coconut was definitely greater than the close encounter with the friendly sharks.
posted by Geo at 8:34 PM on May 26, 2002

In Hawai'i, I was wondering why a coconut grove was closed off due to safety hazards. I guess getting conked on the head by a coconut is no joke.
posted by Down10 at 2:06 AM on May 27, 2002

Also discussed here, where the conversation was more about sharks and less about fruit.
posted by piskycritter at 4:51 AM on May 28, 2002

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