Monday, July 18, 2005

What causes a shark attack?

What drives a shark like a great white shark to attack humans? Posted by Picasa

If you’ve ever wondered about the mechanics behind a shark bite, Discovery has just the DVD for you. As a promotional effort for the cable network’s Shark Week program which begins Sunday, Shark Week: Anatomy of a Shark Bite (2 stars, $14.94) is now available.

In 2002 Erich Ritter, a shark behavioral scientist was filming in the Bahamas with Discovery Channel when a 400-pound bull shark bit him in the leg, effectively removing his entire calf muscle. What is somewhat extraordinary is that the entire event was captured on film, below and above water.

After recovering from the wound, Ritter set out to discover what caused the shark to bite him and exactly what happened to him in the process of the bite. Ritter also talks to other shark attack victims to determine the nature of their attack, including one surfer who lost his arm from just below the shoulder, and most horrifying, even more than Ritter’s, a woman who lost most of her left leg from a Great White shark attack while swimming in the Pacific Ocean.

In an effort to discover what amount of pressure is necessary to wreak the damage that was done, Ritter and the Discovery Channel enlist the help of a special effects design firm, creating pneumatic shark jaws with replicated metal shark teeth, and using a fake shark to simulate what might have happened during Ritter’s attack. Ritter and the special effects team also utilized the shark jaws, outfitting them with Great White teeth, to figure out how much pressure was necessary to remove most of one victim’s leg.

While the show is a bit repetitive in regard to repeatedly showing Ritter’s altercation with the shark, there are a few tidbits of interest. Likely, the most important bit of information is that when you’re in shark-infested waters, don’t splash and kick. These are moves that attract a shark’s attention.
Special features are limited to an additional Shark Week episode, "Future Shark." This disc will probably only appeal to fans of the show, but it does make for some interesting, and occasionally chilling, viewing.


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