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Jan 26, 2011

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drudown

@James

The similarities between the cautious, yet deliberate approach of this Tiger shark to the cautious approach of the large Bull shark in the documented Ritter attack is utterly striking. I believe it tends to support your concern that "why wouldn't the shark go for the diver who is failing to provide food," or at least underscores that is a legitimate risk the divers are assuming. I find it humorous how many people on youtube are so quick to conclude that the shark "was NOT" trying to bite the diver, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. In fact, the Tiger shark expresses similar predatory intentions at the beginning of the video and immediately after the "near miss"...

Tell me, if Tiger sharks are widely known as "garbage cans" of the sea...how can anyone credibly contend that the Tiger shark wouldn't realize a feeding opportunity on that guy's leg if he failed to act decisively...we know why happened when a person puts the "these sharks are more afraid of you than we are of them" philosophy into practice.

As Dr. Ritter limps along, singing this children's book song.

"Deep experience is never peaceful." - Henry James

James

Not only does baiting run the risk that a particular shark that day may not be satiated with the provisions, there is a risk that sharks may come to associate divers with food. On later encounters with divers who not carrying food, why wouldn't the shark go for the diver who is failing to provide food? I have been diving for a few years now, and I honestly don't get the fascination with purposefully baiting the sharks. That's not nature, and it's not conservation. It's a bunch of idiots who didn't get enough attention from mum. My opinion is leave the effin fish alone. If you see a shark while diving (which I really enjoy) than i see one. If I don't, I see other stuff. I wish the thrill seekers who bait the sharks would jump out of an airplane to get their kicks, although whether they use a parachute or not is totally up to them.

drudown

"A mistake, man made, but a mistake."

Is that so? Can you tell me what the difference between a ravenous Bull shark and "a human baited animal" is because a rose is a rose is a rose.

"Same with Ritters leg, mistake, but man made."

Uncritically adopting the notion that the documented predation by the Bull shark involves a "mistake" (man made or mistaken identity) is not without its challenges. In what sense is there a "mistake"? If a White shark attacks a foam cut out being trailed by Chris Fallows, I would call that a mistake. But the Bull shark bumped Ritter's leg and then realized a feeding event.

Poor little underwater pilgrim just got scalped.

So, surely, I will assume, you would not contend that the Bull shark "did not intend" to do what we all observed: consume part of Ritter during the ordinary course and scope of the Bull shark's ecological niche?

The tail beats back and forth, muscle twitch, the shark completes what time will allow.

Please elaborate upon why the attendant circumstances "human baiting" (no pun intended) are relevant from a sociobiological perspective? Is there a difference between Ritter's attack and Jamie Marie Daigle's attack that merits consideration, or may we also say: predation is predation is predation.

Is there a difference between the Groh attack and Lloyd Skinner's, other than the species, e.g., does the fact the latter was completely consumed truly make them different? Does the fact the former involved human baited conditions really "cause" the attack or do both involve generalist feeders that have been always been known to consume us? I fancy.

"Fact is Jim's been a the center of too many man made mistakes with sharks as of late and uses the 'mistake' part of the conversation to continue making them."

Just this: I don't really see Jim as having any control over the situation insofar that, as someone once attacked by a White shark aptly summarized, "an animal that size is going to make all the decisions." Let's assume, for the sake of hypothetical argument, it may properly be deemed "a mistake" (e.g., hindsight is 20/20) if Tim Treadwell set up his camp on a known brown bear trail in order to see it up close and experience Nature? The brown bear that ate Treadwell was likely short of fat stores for the winter, Tim became Nature's dinner...but we can't say it was a "mistake" because the bear ate a perfectly edible primate, just like the sharks Jim's tours occasionally attract, no?

Seems so.

"Ritter has spent the rest of his life after his leg bite trying vainly to get anyone who will listen to come round to his way of thinking about sharks. No one is buying it, and what a waste of time and energy when he could be helping save sharks from a global fin crises."

Why is it the purview of any scientist to condition people to "think" about sharks a certain way? Surely it is not the vocation of Science to be anything's regret. As I see the world, one can strive for conservation without investing any intelligence in a public relations charade for sharks- even if there are two left in the wild. And the science of "baiting" causing "mistakes" is dubious, maybe void ab initio.

By analogy, would we be the wiser if scientists theorized the remaining Bengal tigers were eating people by mistake? Madness, not science in any respect.

"Jim is in the same boat as Ritter, and sadly the same boat as Tim Treadwell another famous animal handler who learned too late that you can apply all manner of humanistic values upon a generalist predator but at the end of the day reality will come and bite you on the leg, arm, and ass."

Res ipsa loquitur.

"Or in the case of Markus Groh and Tim Treadwell end your life."

After the event, even the fool is wise

Thomas

A mistake, man made, but a mistake. Same with Ritters leg, mistake, but man made. Fact is Jim's been a the center of too many man made mistakes with sharks as of late and uses the "mistake" part of the conversation to continue making them.

Ritter has spent the rest of his life after his leg bite trying vainly to get anyone who will listen to come round to his way of thinking about sharks. No one is buying it, and what a waste of time and energy when he could be helping save sharks from a global fin crises.

Jim is in the same boat as Ritter, and sadly the same boat as Tim Treadwell another famous animal handler who learned too late that you can apply all manner of humanistic values upon a generalist predator but at the end of the day reality will come and bite you on the leg, arm, and ass.

Or in the case of Markus Groh and Tim Treadwell end your life.

drudown

@Thomas

As I see the world of sharks, the true "problem" of baiting sharks for recreational viewing (outside a cage) is that humans are typically "soliciting" a known man-eating, generalist feeder opportunist apex predator. When I watch the Ritter attack, it seems that the Bull shark was (to put it mildly) simply not sated with the fish scraps swirling in the currents. So while it is exhilirating, you would think the operators would at least be honest about the known risk that everyone participating is assuming.

Not so.

Just as "Dr." Ritter seeks to procure more grant money for his (I'm guessing here; enter Ritter accent) "we need to know what a shark is thinking when it attacks us and swallows the meat harvested in predation behavior because it probably would make a good, long research boondoggle that people would want to read before going in the water", so too, do dive operators want to rehabilitate sharks' allegedly "misunderstood" or "unfounded" dangerous reputation because, let's face it, that will likely result in more people going on their tours and, by logical extension, assuming the known risk of becoming a meal they might otherwise not were they apprised of the true state of affairs.

But for many people (e.g., me) who love diving, obviously we all willingly accept such a risk. I would go on Jim's shark dive. Looks pretty cool to me. The issue is how much does baiting increase the risk of attack? I don't know if it is that dangerous when dealing with sharks that have been conditioned to come for a free meal. The problem is that you are potentially ringing the dinner bell for a shark that has just migrated across the ocean and wants a more substantive meal.

By baiting a group of Bull sharks that are competing for resources, there is the natural, foreseeable risk created by humans that the opportunistic predator will simply realize a feeding opportunity at the human's expense. That is what happened to Ritter and Groh. As for Jim, it sounds more like (dare I say in the same sentence as shark attack) a "mistake". The shark that attacked the lady in Cancun? That is called feeding. No "mistaken identity" analysis required.

In this regard, as a big proponent of White shark cage diving (enter John McCain voice: "why NOT come face to face with White Death?"), I think it is actually much more dangerous to restrict feeding the White sharks with, say, free tuna handouts (e.g., in South Africa) for the simple fact that you are drawing sharks in with chum and offering no reward. Reduced to its essence, you are attracting known man-eating, generalist feeder opportunist apex predator that might have just swam over from Australia. Those are the kinds of White sharks that attack items not normally on "the menu," e.g., Petrels and people.

In my experience observing them in person, White sharks off Guadalupe are smart enough and, indeed, conditioned enough to know that there is a tuna "reward" for attending the, ahem, human created interaction. Anyone that has been there has seen half the sharks (e.g., "Scar") on all the great youtube clips filmed there.

As such, it seems illogical to attract them to areas in close proximity to human swimmers and not provide them with the conditioned "reward", i.e., the White sharks that are attracted that are very hungry are going to be excited by the stimuli and foreseeably realize a feeding opportunity in the immediate vicinity. (enter JAWS music)

As for the Groh attack, it was presumably a Tiger shark that was not a "regular" Tiger shark at these human sponsored feeding events and, drawn by the stimuli- like the Bull shark that ate Ritter's calf muscle- decided to eat a known, tertiary prey item instead.

A human being.

So, I don't doubt some experienced divers have an affinity for "Betty" or [insert name of "regular" Tiger shark here], but the fact remains that if you attract a very hungry Tiger shark- like "bumping" into one stranded in the open ocean, their metabolic needs are going to "cause" the attack.

The irony, from my perspective, is that ALL man-eating sharks have been conditioned to follow and approach boats since our seafaring ways began. So it isn't as if banning cage diving is going to change that. Nor will burning perfectly good boats, but that is another topic.

Nevertheless, it seems very silly to listen to Jim predictably try to exculpate his cash cow (i.e., the shark) from any "intentional" harm- just as a dive operator in Cancun blamed the recent (juvenile Tiger shark?) attack as (what else) "self-defense" by the shark.

We all have our fish tales, I guess.

And bills to pay.

"Everyone acts according to self-interest." - Gracian

Thomas

Drudown, the shark that bit Ritter was a human baited animal, the bait was badly placed behind Ritter and he almost lost his leg.The shark that killed Markus Groh was another baited animal. This time Jimmy Abernathy placed the bait too close to the divers legs and the bull shark followed the scent trail down into Grohs legs biting him. The shark that ripped into Jim's arm was another human baited animal. Do you see a trend here?

Someone Who Knows

This guy is full of crap and there is NO shortage of sharks in this area!How do I know? Because as the wife of a commercial fisherman I am on the ocean a LOT with my husband and trust me the sharks are doing just fine!He just wants to promote the ban against commercial fishing,he does'nt like the industry and will say anything to get people to listen to him!

drudown

Mary, perhaps the "change in perception" you seek to impose on the general populace in illusory.

Sharks are generalist feeders.

The bull shark that bit off "Dr." Ritter's calf did so because it was hungry. To attribute it to human behavior is silly.

Mary

Jimmy had a shark attack one of his divers two years ago and now this!?

When does it end? While the rest of the planet is trying to save sharks and change perceptions of sharks Jimmy with his endless accidents is harming them.

Please Jimmy stop what you are doing for the sake of the sharks!

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