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Professor Quippy: Horror on your beach holiday

Professor QuippySo you’re going to head down to the beach, catch some rays and zesty waves? Just be careful, because a gruesome fate awaits you there.

No, I’m not talking about beach zombies, sunburn or even another version of Jaws, but the lowly sandcastle. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, pretend fortresses constructed of sand are more dangerous than sharks. (In 1990: 16 deaths from sandcastles, and 12 from shark attack.)

It’s not the bailey that is the danger, but the moat. Most of the deaths resulted from people falling into the trench or hole they dug around their gritty citadels and being buried by sand. (And when I say “people” I actually mean boys between the ages of 3-21, who accounted for most of the fatalities.)

And the danger doesn’t end with collapsing sand holes. If you’re having a little of fun with your pail and spade on beaches around Lake Superior (US), then in addition to sand, your major material of construction is E. coli bacteria. The benign form of bacteria is no big deal, but they can also indicate that “harmful fecal microorganisms may also be present,” according to a CBS story about the Environmental Science and Technology report (link below).


Harmful Fecal Microorganisms isn’t even a good name for a band.

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