The Physics of Sharks vs. Batteries. Could An Electric Boat Kill You?

Rhett Allain
5 min readJun 13, 2024
Illustration: Rhett Allain. A person on a sinking electric boat with a shark nearby. It could happen.

Let’s just get to the crazy part. At a recent rally, Donald Trump said the following. Note: I don’t really know how to format this since it wasn’t really a linear sentence structure.

So I said let me ask you a question. He said nobody ever asked this question and it must be because of MIT my relationship to MIT. Very smart.

I said what would happen if the boat sank from it’s weight and you are in the boat and you have this tremendously power battery and the battery is now underwater and there’s a shark that’s a approximately 10 yards over there… the way…shark stuff here…

So there’s a shark 10 yards away from the boat. 10 yards or here or do I get electrocuted. Do I stay on top of the boat and get electrocuted or do I jump over by the shark and not get electrocuted? ….I think there’s a lot of electric current coming through that water.

Of course the question that nobody asks (just kidding) is “could you even get electrocuted by a battery in the water? There’s a bunch of stuff here — so let’s get started.

Shocking Humans

In my understanding, “electrocuted” means death by electricity — but it seems that people like to use it to also mean just “shocked” by electricity. That’s fine, but why…



Rhett Allain

Physics faculty, science blogger of all things geek. Technical Consultant for CBS MacGyver and MythBusters. WIRED blogger.