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Swiss pioneers The Swiss shark whisperer

Erich Ritter is one of the world’s leading researchers into shark behaviour and believes they have a reputation for being dangerous that they don't deserve. He has devised a highly-sought after protocol for how humans can better interact with sharks. (SRF/

Ritter, who holds a PhD in Behavioural Ecology from Zurich University and now works with the University of West Florida, has been fighting for the last 35 years for a better understanding of sharks. The scientist with dual Swiss-US citizenship, is one of the leading experts in the fish’s body language.

Ritter has focused his studies on why sharks attack. As one of the few shark experts in this field of research he has experimentally recreated many of the typical attack scenarios with different species and thus dispelled many of the myths in this field.

Ritter thinks that sharks are not intrinsically dangerous. When a shark approaches a diver, he believes they are doing that out of curiosity, and thus he advises divers not to swim away but to assume a vertical position and to follow the shark by rotating on one's own axis.

To teach divers how to interact with sharks on a very practical level, Ritter founded the "Shark Schoolexternal link" in the Bahamas in 1992. That’s where Swiss Public Television, SRF, visited the renowned shark researcher.

In the series 'Swiss Pioneers', Swiss Public Television, SRF, meets Swiss nationals at home and abroad who have made a name for themselves in their area of expertise.

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