Speaking

I have been hired many times by a variety of event coordinators to talk about sharks, interactions, bites, rescue attempts and other how to's. I currently offer three talks. However, should you be interested in a different topic, let me know. 

Here is short video and what to expect when I am on stage:

 

Zurich from Erich Ritter on Vimeo.

1) Facing a shark? Deal With it - and Feel Safe

Most people fear sharks – but why? It’s not likely they had a bad experience with one of them. So then why? Is it because sharks can come up from the dim and dark depths of the sea, can hurt and even kill us, can’t be read and we don’t know how to react when facing one? Whatever the reason may be, sharks are not the animals the media portrays. They are most often shy, cautious and hesitant to come closer and that includes the ultimate predator as well; the white shark. Sharks are the least dangerous predators over 100 lbs on our planet. That says it all. However, numbers don’t count when facing a shark and its curiosity may take over.

So why is dealing with sharks in the wild still such an unknown? Aren’t there researchers out there studying the true nature of these animals? No, they aren’t and there isn’t. Only a handful of scientists study shark-human interaction and body language. This talk is about the insight of such work and the most intriguing questions of all: what is the thinking process behind a shark’s approach, how does a shark interpret a new situation, what factors likely dominate such an approach? Questions like these are studied through series of tests between sharks and humans in defined but free, non-restricted scenarios, and answers given to the “Why me?” and “What do I have to do?” questions.

Erich shares his motivation and knowledge about facing sharks and how everybody can learn and not just be among them but also how to communicate. You learn what to look for when a shark approaches, what factors influence the situation the most and most importantly how to act and react in a safe manner based on the shark’s signaling.

This talk is ideal for:

  • Any recreational person: swimmer, surfer, diver, beachgoer etc.
  • Lifeguards and other rescue personal
  • Sailors
  • Anybody who wants to see behind the “dead” eyes of a shark

2) After a near-fatal shark attack getting back into the game

April 9, 2003 is the date when the most aired shark attack on TV of all time took place (over 40 million viewers when first aired). During a shoot for Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” the unthinkable happened, a fully grown bull shark bites off the calf of a scientist right in front of the camera. To be the scientist with the most face-to-face encounters with sharks in the scientific community and get nearly killed by one was the worst combination that could happen for the cause to protect these animals. This scientist was me.

No one really cared to know why it happened, just that it happened, so there was not much empathy from colleagues and a lot of ridicule. I did not just lose my sponsors, classes and my livelihood, but my reputation lost every ounce of credibility. On top of that, many “shark haters” used this very incident to underline their point of view that sharks are dangerous, since not even experts can prevent it. Reasoning with these types of people was impossible; likewise I could not shake off all the unfairness of those people who finally had a shot at me. I was in the crosshair for months and nothing could protect me. So I withdrew from the public, and after a lot of soul searching I decided to start all over, no matter what.

This talk is about not giving up and having the courage to try it once more. I started from scratch, without money or support. But I wanted to make my incident count, and began a new area of research, the interpretation of approach pattern of sharks and factors influencing these situations. Without the incident, this research would never have happened. Now, 13 years later, my understanding of sharks is way beyond what I knew on this dark Wednesday in April of 2003.

What is the message?

This talk revolves around how a life can fall apart but can be rebuilt with determination, hope and the mantra to never give up.

3) Act, react, rescue and prevention - dealing with a shark incident

Each summer we are hounded by the same stories about shark attacks. And like always, the local municipalities and commission boards cry for help, better protection and prevention for the general public, better monitoring and education for lifeguards, and on, and on. Each year history repeats itself: we are called in to interpret and interviewed after it happened again.

This talk revolves around the questions what to do and how to do it when a shark hits a person, as well as how to prevent the preventable. The motivation behind a bite is mostly straight forward, not so why this particular shark lowered its thresholds of hesitation to the point that it took a bite while other sharks before and after being in the same situations did not do so.

What is the message?

You will learn all about the “do's and dont's” that truly matter when being among sharks, or specifically facing one. It further strengthens the understanding that environmental factors can be read and interpreted for the sake of a safe retreat, or a potential face-off.

Expert on:

  • Shark-human interaction
  • Body language of sharks
  • Behavior of sharks
  • Forensic analysis of shark bites
  • Rescue protocols

Why should you choose me?

Real world experience

You don’t get hypothetical and questionable suggestions; you will receive proven recommendations that actually work.

Passion for my subject

I still get excited talking about my work and people will profit from listening to me.

Confidence

I am very confident about my work and some of my rather unique experiences illustrate quite well with how interaction with sharks work.

Continuous research

I am still in the field and do active research when I am not teaching to keep pushing the understanding of sharks.