Ice Cream Consumption Linked to Shark Attacks

March 28, 2011

When ice cream consumption rises in the summer, so does the number of shark attacks, a new study shows.

The researchers, whose findings are published in the March issue of Causation/Correlation, monitored ice cream consumption in the coastal town of  Port Bull over three years.

The scientists say their findings reveal a link between increased ice cream consumption and a greater prevalance of shark attacks. “Basically,” says Dr. John McQuaig, a researcher from the University of Wroxton, “people ate the most ice cream in the summer; sharks attacks peaked at the same time. Then, in winter, when people ate less, shark attacks decreased.”

“This sheds intriguing light on the effects of diet on humans’ appeal to carnivores, suggesting that saturated fat and dairy may be particularly attractive to sharks,” he added in a release.

Scoops and Sharks

In the study, researchers documented the number of ice cream cones eaten per capita, along with the number of shark attacks. According to their data, shark attacks were lowest in the winter, when the populace ate the least ice cream, and highest in summer, when they ate the most. Those who had eaten ice cream purchased from boardwalk or beachside stands were most likely to be linked to a shark attack. 

While not usually man-eaters, sharks require highly-caloric food to power their muscular bodies. As fat contains more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates, it is believed that humans with higher levels of body-fat would be more attractive to sharks.

“Ice cream itself has a lot of fat,” says Dr. Anita Bath, another researcher from the University of  Wroxton.

“It’s possible that eating more ice cream leads to weight gain, which would increase your appeal to sharks. Similarly, sharks may be able to sense recently-eaten ice cream in the stomach.”

Sharks have a highly developed sense of smell and sensitive electrical receptors.

Ice cream means screams?

The overall number of shark attacks in Port Bull remained near the national average, but chances of being involved in a shark attack increased significantly if ice cream had been eaten within the last week, with beachside ice cream being the most deadly. Scientists say more research is needed to fully understand the issue.

“We’re not sure if the sharks are reacting to the presence of ice cream itself in the human body, or to the elevated body fat that comes from eating ice cream,” says McQuaig.

“In any case, it shows another way in which eating junk food can potentially shorten your lifespan.”





  1. Excellent example of a particular fallacy, and I wonder if I may use it when I teach my Comp. students about making arguments.

    • Please do! It would be my pleasure. I’m glad you liked it/found it useful.

  2. Or could it simply be that there are more people in the water when it’s warm? Wonder how much this study cost…

    • Not much. 🙂
      I wrote it after seeing a few too many internet “science” articles; don’t worry, it is because more people are in the water.

  3. I don’t know the stats, but I would assume more shark attacks happen to people with lower body fat (surfers and such) because you find fewer heavy people out where the sharks can get you. Well, unless they love swimming like me . . . but I’d rather eat the ice cream and stay out of the ocean. 😉

  4. Bwahahaha!

    You need to submit this to The Anvil:

    One more reason to Go Vegan!

    • Hahaha, I’d never heard of The Anvil, but that weather article is hilarious! Thanks for sharing, Nancy!

  5. Are sharks lactose intolerant?

  6. Love it! Very funny, despite the sad connection. Still very funny.

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