We sadly announce the passing of our dear friend, shark researcher and activist, Dr. Erich Ritter.
He passed away due to cardiovascular disease in his home in Florida.
The world has lost its most competent and valued shark behavioral researcher who never ceased to fight for shark welfare and aimed to refine the image of these wholly misunderstood animals.
“..knowing more about the biology and behavior of sharks, we might increase the already slim chances of saving them – but time is running out..”
Dr. Erich Ritter was the first scientist who engaged in field research and studied sharks up-close in their natural environment – the open sea. He refuted many common disbeliefs, including the “mistaken identity theory” that states white sharks confuse human surfers with sea lions. Thanks to numerous experiments in the field he was able to contradict this misconception, among many others.
Deducing a clear behavioral pattern commonly exhibited by sharks when exploring an unknown object and uncovering the sensory entities involved both count among his most valuable contributions to understanding shark behavior. Based on these findings, he established a clear directive aimed at how to behave when in vicinity of a shark.
He shared his knowledge with the U.S. Marine Corps, divers and the general public during courses and workshops worldwide.
Originally from Switzerland, he lectured at the University of West Florida and was head of the “Shark Research Institute”. He published innumerable scientific papers and books on shark behaviour, establishing clear guidelines for shark-human interaction.
In order to make his knowledge accessible to the general public, he founded the SharkSchool® Teaching Association. All members are trained concerning shark-human interaction, both in theory and practice. Since then, SharkSchool® Teaching has passed on his knowledge to children, divers and interested people alike.
SharkSchool® Teaching has lost its founder and most important member. We are grief-stricken and mourning a dear friend. We grieve the loss of a kind-hearted friend and scientist who transcended himself in the pursuit of protecting sharks. His credo - “We will not protect an animal we are afraid of” – still rings in our ears and hearts.
His greatest wish was that everyone could see sharks through his eyes at least once. We aim to fulfil his wish and dutifully accept his legacy. We will do everything in our power to carry on his work to improve the public perception of these truly fascinating animals and advocate their protection. We are full of gratitude for his contributions to shark welfare and the impact he had on our personal lives. It is a true honor to have known him.
Erich, you are dearly missed and will always continue to live on in our hearts.
In the name of SharkSchool® Teaching
Film material illustrating his obituary (german subtitles provided) can be found here: https://youtu.be/KzSN5pA26oY