Experience sharks, understand and communicate with them

We aquarists and nature lovers like snorkelling and diving. In reefs this can bring us face to face with sharks and sooner or later we’ll wonder why these peaceful, mostly anxious, animals still attack people. To find some answers for this and many other questions, we got together with the leading shark researcher Dr. Erich Ritter and organised a JBL shark workshop in the Bahamas. This is practically in the living room of the sharks and more attacks on people are recorded in Florida than anywhere else.

We wanted to learn from Dr. Ritter how sharks tick and what he means when he says that it's not the sharks that are dangerous, just the situations. 22 participants from Germany, France, Scotland and Switzerland travelled to Eleuthera/Bahamas for 7 days to experience some live shark research.

    First encounters with sharks

    Shortly after anchoring on the reef eight sharks were already there. As more and more arrived we went to them in the water, without knowing how they would react. Erich simply said: "Join them and get used to each other. Enjoy it! "

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    The body language of sharks

    Finally, we started to understand their body language and what an open or closed mouth, eye contact, swim angle, fin position and flapping frequency of the tail fin meant. Erich Ritter was excellent at introducing us to the subject of shark interaction in his lectures, combining humor with a lot of expertise.

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    In the middle of a bunch of feasting sharks – a truly unique experience

    At the feed basket we weren’t just there, we were right in the eye of the storm. The sharks just ignored us. It was as if we didn’t exist for them. They swam us aside, smacked their fins on our faces and bodies and were totally preoccupied with the feed basket.

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    Sharks in shallow water – it doesn’t get more intensive than this

    For some interactions, we "lead" the sharks into the shallow water. And we would not have imagined in our wildest dreams what we experienced there with the sharks at the stern of the boat!

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    Why do shark accidents happen?

    Shark researcher Dr. Erich Ritter taught us that there are no dangerous sharks, only dangerous situations. But which situations are dangerous and why? Erich himself once almost lost his life in an accident.

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    The nurse shark is the boss

    At the underwater feeding session, we were amazed when a harmless nurse shark joined us and swam to the feed basket. All other sharks present withdrew and left it to feed. Even under sharks, there is a hierarchy!

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    Holding the breath for 7.5 minutes

    Free diving without compressed air equipment is one of the most intensive ways to experience the sea and to get closer to the sharks. We learned from 10-time world record holder Christian Redl how to do it right

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    Testing water amongst the sharks

    Although the sharks took centre stage we also wanted to measure the water values of the Caribbean. We also had test cases, lighting and PAR measuring devices in our luggage. And when else do you find yourself doing your measurements in front of the most famous dorsal fin in the world?

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    This is how the underwater photos were taken

    Perhaps you also take underwater pictures and would like to know more about how our pictures were taken? You’ll find a little information and a few tips for underwater photography here.

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