Weird Nature This Shark Expert Lost His Calf To A Bull Shark, And It Was All Caught On Camera  

Beth Elias
7.8k views 9 items

In 2002, while filming for Discovery Channel's Shark Week, a shark expert by the name of Dr. Erich Ritter was bitten by a bull shark, causing him to lose his calf. To make matters worse for poor Ritter, the whole thing was caught on film, and that video is now available for your viewing pleasure. Or viewing displeasure; it's a pretty gory video. 

Bull shark attacks are among the most common shark attacks, but a shark expert attacked while filming? That's so ironic that it's almost poetic. Bull shark bites are no joke, though, and Ritter is lucky to have survived. However, some other experts aren't huge fans of Ritter's methods, and say he was behaving dangerously to begin with.

After Ritter recovered, he was right back at it, researching and working with sharks. 

Who Is Dr. Erich Ritter?

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Video: YouTube

Who is this shark expert who got bit by the one thing he purports to be an expert on? Ritter is the developer of a program that teaches divers how to behave around sharks. He is well known for conducting experiments that involve shark attack reenactments. Wonder what conclusions he drew from his own... 

Prior to his attack, Ritter credited yoga breathing for his ability to exist around sharks without being harmed. Well, he can still say he uses it to keep calm during moments of stress. 

Warning: the video above contains graphic imagery.

How The Attack Went Down

How The Attack Went Down is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list This Shark Expert Lost His Calf To A Bull Shark, And It Was All Caught On Camera
Photo: Rooners Toy Photography/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

So, how did a shark expert manage to get his calf ripped off by a bull shark? For the reader hungry for visual carnage, a video of the full event is available here. (Somehow, this video is only #16 on Discovery's shark bite countdown; what does the top attack look like?) A more gruesome version, where the wound is shown in greater detail, is available here

If you're not interested in seeing Ritter's insides, here's a text-only version of how things went down:

Ritter and a television host are standing in shallow water, and sharks are visibly swarming around them. Ritter gets bumped by a shark, and suddenly is pulled off his feet as a shark grabs ahold of his calf muscle. Luckily for Ritter, the shark is basically over it and peaces out before Ritter gets any more chewed up. 

The Bite Is Pretty Gross

The Bite Is Pretty Gross is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list This Shark Expert Lost His Calf To A Bull Shark, And It Was All Caught On Camera
Photo: Pan American Health Organization PAHO/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

In this video, viewers get a clear look at the skin around Ritter's calf hanging off the bone, the muscle ripped away. Following the attack, Ritter was flown to a hospital in Florida for emergency surgery.

Though he lost functionality of his foot, doctors managed to save his leg, so he can still walk. To recover, he spent well over a month in the hospital.  

The Attack Was Sort Of The Discovery Channel's Fault, But They Still Made Bank Off The Mishap

The Attack Was Sort Of The Dis... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list This Shark Expert Lost His Calf To A Bull Shark, And It Was All Caught On Camera
Photo: Hurricanedc at English Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

Before Ritter was bitten, the water was baited to attract sharks, so Discovery theoretically knew the inherent risks. Other than releasing the footage for the channel's gain, it doesn't appear that Discovery did much else; they didn't even bother to issue an official statement to the press.

In a similar mishap, a producer was bitten by a venomous snake, and that photo was also released to the public. Maybe this is the cost of doing business with Discovery?