04/09/2002 Erich Ritter ( Bahamas )

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2002.
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04/09/2002 Erich Ritter ( Bahamas )

Post by sharkbait »

The following posting has been taken from a REUTERS announcement and updated with aqual quotes, statements and bits of analysis by Erich Ritter himself. His input is marked with EKR:

Shark Expert Seriously Injured by Shark in Bahamas
Fri Apr 12, 9:26 AM ET

The following posting has been taken from a REUTERS announcement and updated with aqual quotes, statements and bits of analysis by Erich Ritter himself. His input is marked with EKR:

MIAMI (Reuters) - A shark expert known for unusual research methods and "pushing the envelope" in his study of the feared marine predator's behavior was badly bitten by a shark in the Bahamas, colleagues said on Thursday.

Dr. Erich Ritter, chief scientist for the Princeton, New Jersey-based Global Shark Attack File, was bitten in the calf by what was believed to be a 350-pound (159-kg) bull shark during filming of a Discovery (news - web sites) Channel program off Walker's Cay, Bahamas, on Tuesday.

"It was a serious injury," said Marie Levine, executive director of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton. "He's going to be in the hospital for four or five more weeks."

A series of particularly gruesome shark attacks, including one where an 8-year-old boy lost an arm to a bull shark in Florida, earned international media attention last summer, although the year turned out to be an average one with 76 attacks recorded worldwide.

Experts say shark attacks are very rare and may be increasing only because more people are using the oceans for recreation.

Ritter, 43, was bitten in murky, waist-deep water as he worked with lemon, black-tip and bull sharks for the television program, Levine said.

It appears the bull-shark was chasing a remora, a smaller fish, and bit Ritter by accident.

EKR: This lie has been spread by the spotter who was responsible for this accident to cover his negligence. Whenever I worked in such a scenario I always had one person standing above me - on a plattform - to let me know the position of any shark coming from behind. The spotter failed to do his job, did not pay attention and the accident happened. To cover his act, a story was created that included a remora, low visibility etc. etc... but the video exposed his lie!

"There was food in the water about 15 yards (14 meters) from Erich. A bull shark closed on the remora but in the low visibility bit Erich instead," she said.

EKR: Marie Levine had to follow the story that was spread. At this point I was not able to talk nor to reconstruct the accident. I always had my doubts about the way this incident happened but I was not in a position to proof it. The final proof (and confirmation) came when I saw the video that showed my bite.

The shark's teeth went to the bone and Ritter was rushed to a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he underwent an arterial graft and possibly a skin graft on the calf wound, she said.

"They were really pushing the envelope," Levine said. "This is one of those things that can happen when you're working with big animals and it was an accident."

But Dr. Sam Gruber, a University of Miami shark expert who worked with Ritter in the 1990s, said Ritter's methods were not accepted by the scientific community and called him "an accident waiting to happen."

EKR: It is common knowledge in the “shark community” that Gruber hates me for different reasons. For starters: I did my Post-Doc “under” him, I tought several courses next to him, it was he who pushed the department that I get an “Adjunct Assistant Professorship” at RSMAS (“his” school)– next to him. We worked together for 6 years! In these years I saw a few things that finally forced me to blow the whistle on him… and since then his field station is not part of the University of Miami anymore… and this was the beginning of his crusade to destroy me…. He uses every chance to insult or degrade me. So it is not a surprise that he made these comments at a time when it was not even sure I survive. I despise people like him who jump on such occasions just to put other people down. He is too much of a coward to face me… But then again, what can be expected from such a person. Quite a few fellow scientists in the “community” were disgusted about Gruber’s remarks at a time where the target may die. Gruber is a low life in my eyes…

What Gruber refers to as “scientific community” is nothing more than a few people close to him – and definitely is not what he implies. His followers – same as Gruber - do not go in the water and work with these animals the way we do. It is so much easier to hide his or her own fear by discrediting and criticizing somebody than proof him/her wrong by showing where he/she is wrong. I challenge(d) Gruber to show me where I am wrong – or he would be right for that matter - but people like him are too scared and always find excuses why not to take the challenge. Nevertheless, a lot of things that are now commonly accepted in the field of shark-human interaction is based on my work. My 3 books on this topic should be proof enough.

"He has been getting more and more fearless, or some would say bold. This method is basically to titillate TV cameras," Gruber said. "He wants to impress people that he can control these sharks and they will never bite him."

EKR: GruberÂ’s statements are filled with hate, incompetence and ignorance. He is not a behaviorist, nor does he understand the basics of shark-human interaction... Somehow I feel sorry that a person of his age has to make remarks like that to a journal. Does he really think that people buy this crap he says? He should use his brain before he opens his mouth!

Gruber said Ritter believed his study of the marine predators had made him immune to shark bites and called his methods damaging to those trying to do "legitimate" research on sharks.

EKR: What can be said about such a statement? Gruber is blinded by hate and ignorance, so all he can do is insultingÂ… to insult is the main weapon of people who are wrong and won't admit. IF he is such an expert - he sure tries hard to imply that - why not show something on the shark-human interaction matter and support his words. The answer is clear, there is nothing he can show...

"He believes he can read the minds of sharks and that he knows everything about shark behavior so he can predict what they are going to do," Gruber said. "Those predictions will never be accurate enough to say 'this is what will happen 100 percent of the time.'"

EKR: Another ignorant comment by a highly questionable personÂ… again: he should insult less and read more! What is really sad (or pitiful) is that I have to waste my time to respond to these remarks.. of course we could have just erased his remarks but I believe that it is necessary to make the public aware about these kind of people...

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