Report by Shark Info
The American television station "Discovery Channel" was filming
Erich Ritter for the series "Shark Week" in Walker's Cay, Bahamas,
as he was bitten in his calf by an adult bull shark.
Erich was immediately flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in Palm
Beach (Florida) where a team of specialists managed to save his leg
in an operation lasting several hours. According to his
financée, Erich had described the bull shark as being a "big
hunk of a shark". She was one of the few persons in contact with
Erich, since the hospital was thoroughly besieged by journalists.
How could such an accident occur?
Erich is probably the most experienced person when it comes to
interacting with free-swimming sharks and his contacts with these
animals are certainly not careless or without respect. The
on-the-job accident was caused by unfortunate circumstances. The
more time a human spends in contact with sharks, and this is
especially true for Erich, the more likely an accident can happen.
Gary Adkison, manager of the Walker's Cay marina, was on the scene
when the accident occurred and explained how it happened in an
interview on "Scuba Radio", a radio station directed at American
divers: For filming purposes, Erich and Gary wanted to repeat their
already frequently performed experiment of showing that sharks pay
no attention to humans in clear water, even when food is found in
the water. In the Springtime, however, many young lemon sharks,
blacktip sharks and even nurse sharks are found in the region
normally dominated by bull sharks. In other words, there were more
sharks than usual in the feeding area and the water was murky rather
than clear due to the many animals who were swirling up the water.
Erich and Nigel Marven from Discovery Channel thus suddenly stood up
to their chests in murky water, a very critical situation. Gary
tried to lure the sharks away from Erich and Nigel by throwing a
piece of fish into the water about five meters away from them.
Unfortunately a remora or "shark sucker" snatched the bait and fled
into the murky water, straight towards Erich. A bull shark swimming
near Erich then also snatched the bait and in so doing bit directly
into Erich's calf, injuring him seriously.
Gary also negated several media reports which claimed that other
people were in the water at the same time, stating that no course
participants were ever in the water during such experiments.
In the meantime Erich has left the hospital and is back in his home
in Miami, Florida. His injured leg was restored as best possible by
modern medicine. Unfortunately he will most likely never again be
able to use his left foot normally because the left shinbone muscle
was too strongly injured so that from now on the foot must be
supported by a bar.
Erich resumed his teaching activities in Walker's Cay on July 10th.
We all wish Erich much success in his work as "shark ambassador". He
has already forgiven the bull shark for his mistake and will
continue his work as usual.
May be published only by indicating the source: Shark Info