Shark Attack

Ian takes on one of his most daring experiments yet, testing the theories of shark behaviourist Dr Erich Ritter at Walkers Cay in the Bahamas. Ian drops in on Erich’s unique ocean classroom where students dive amongst feeding sharks in their bid to understand why sharks attack people and what can be done to stop them.

Produced by NHNZ

Presenter Ian Gordon is at Miami Beach along the Florida coastline, notorious for its shark attacks. Ian is about to embark on one of his most dangerous experiments yet to find out why sharks attack people and what can be done to stop them.

He’s about to get uncomfortably close to some very large Bull sharks, the most dangerous sharks in the world. They grow up to 11 ft (3.3 metres) long, can weigh nearly 700 pounds (318 kg) and kill more of their human victims than Tiger sharks or Great Whites!

Ian hops on a plane to Walkers Cay in the Bahamas, just 100 miles northeast of Miami, for a short boat ride to an unusual classroom where shark behaviourist, Dr Erich Ritter, teaches students how to make shark encounters safer.

Erich’s class is gathered amid a feeding maelstrom of up to 100 feeding Caribbean and Black Tip sharks. They’re learning about the communication and body language between humans and sharks.

Underwater with the feeding sharks Erich disproves the myth that sharks mistake humans for food.

Ian’s excitement is evident as he and Erich prepare to experiment with much larger and more dangerous Bull sharks in shallow water, with no cages, no mesh suits or anti-shark protection devices.

Ian explains that the Bull sharks ability to swim in freshwater as well as salt water means it not only attacks people when they least expect it, but where they least expect it.

It’s time for the world famous Walkers Cay Shark Rodeo, a “feeding frenzy” of 100 sharks. But Erich says that sharks sense our fear. He proves his theory that erratic or animated movements accompanying fear seem to attract sharks.

Erich’s class observes the shark’s safety zone from the seabed while masses of sharks attack the large block of frozen bait strung above them.

He believes many shark attacks are actually a defensive bite.

Even when part of the bait block breaks away and cameraman Mike Bhana ends up in the middle of the ruck, he’s not bitten.

Both Erich and Ian agree if you run from a shark it may sense your fear, or think you have food and give chase.

Erich and Ian wade into shark-infested shallow water smearing blood and fish heads around their legs to prove that sharks are too intelligent to mistake humans for food. A heart-rate monitor reminds them to stay calm and Ian even manages to safely hand feed a large Bull shark. The adrenalin builds as Ian and Erich are knocked out of the way by five or six 9 ft (2.7 metre) sharks going for the bait.

Finally Erich and Ian illustrate how rising heart rates and running away can dramatically change a shark’s attitude towards us.

It’s about as dangerous an experiment as Ian is prepared to attempt.

Ian warns not to try this at home and concludes with some scary statistics;

more Americans are injured by toilets than by sharks!

Episodes From This Series

White Tips of Osprey

30 mins / 2001

A Whale of a Shark

30 mins / 2001

Mako—Friend or Foe?

30 mins / 2001

Great White—The Ultimate Predator

30 mins / 2001

Thresher Shark

30 mins / 2001

Hammerheads

30 mins / 2001

Galapagos Sharks

30 mins / 2001

Grey Nurse — A Visit to the Nurse

30 mins / 2001

Prickly Sharks

30 mins / 2001

Hawaiian Tigers

1 hour / 2001

Port Jackson – A Family Secret

30 mins / 2001

The Sailor’s Nightmare

1 hour / 2001

Shark Attack

30 mins / 2001

Great White Bite

2 Minutes / 2007

Great White – The Ultimate Predator

2 Minutes / 2007

Feeding Frenzy

3 Minutes / 2007

Bull Sharks

3 Minutes / 2007

A Whale of a Shark

2 Minutes / 2007

Mako

3 Minutes / 2007