Question of the Week Podcast

Question of the Week episode

Mon, 10th Mar 2014

Does lightning fry fish?

Lightning Storm (c)

When lightning strikes the sea or a lake, do the fish get fried, or do they somehow escape?

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I had heard that the main reason is that the sea is more conductive than fish (and human swimmers), so the lightning follows the easier path around them rather than trying to go through them. The opposite is the case in fresh water though, so it's more likely to fry you if you're swimming in a lake. What you particularly don't want to do though in a thunderstorm when swimming in the sea is stick up from the surface while getting back out onto the beach. Work your way out while keeping in a crouch position with your head low and your derriere higher - the most important thing if you're struck is to keep the current away from your heart. David Cooper, Mon, 10th Mar 2014

Frying in water - fat chance! Bill S, Wed, 26th Mar 2014

When cooking things in water, the heat is transferred through the water to the food, so it can't reach frying temperature. When lightning goes through a fish that's in water, it can go way higher in temperature, so something more akin to frying is possible. David Cooper, Thu, 27th Mar 2014

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