Model has 'Jaws-worthy moment' while posing for photos
AN INSTAGRAM model from California had a "Jaws"-worthy moment in the Bahamas, where she was bitten by a shark and dragged underwater after deciding to swim with the predators, according to reports.
Katarina Zarutskie, 19, was on holiday in the Exuma Islands with her boyfriend and his family when she heard from locals that swimming with nurse sharks was fun and safe, NBC News reported.
"My boyfriend's family was freaking out when I went to swim with the sharks and I was like, 'It's fine,'" Ms Zarutskie, a nursing student at the University of Miami, told the news outlet.
She said that after a few minutes posing, someone on the pier encouraged her to lie back and float in the water.
"At this point people were starting to take photos and right as I lay back," Ms Zarutskie said, according to the BBC.
Her boyfriend's dad, who was snapping pictures, captured the frightening moment the 1.5m shark sunk its teeth in.
"He had my wrist in his mouth and I could feel his teeth sinking into my arm," Ms Zarutskie told NBC News. "I was pulled underwater for a few seconds and then ripped my wrist out of the shark's mouth as fast as I could."
The photographs show her covering her wound and raising her arm in an effort to stop the blood spreading in the water.
"At that point your body has so much adrenaline going and you just have to get out of the situation, but I stayed extremely calm," she told the BBC.
"I think if someone was screaming and flailing around it definitely could have changed the situation."
Ms Zarutskie swam to some steps and scampered out of the ocean to get stitched up.
She was given antibiotics but decided to fly back to Florida the next day for further treatment.
"[The doctors] now believe that I still have pieces of the shark teeth in my arm and I will forever have a scar," Ms Zarutskie told NBC News, saying that she is worried the injury will affect her modelling career.
But, she added, "I am so fortunate that I still have my arm and my life."
David Hocher, who owns the Staniel Cay Marina, said the slow and sedentary sharks - which can grow to be 4m long - can sometimes be dangerous.
"These animals are considered quite docile but can and do bite on occasion," Mr Hocher told the network, "normally when they mistake a hand or fingers for a piece of food."
Hocher sent NBC News a photo of a sign at the marina warning guests that nurse sharks "can and do bite" - and that visitors who want to swim with them must do so at their own risk.
Ms Zarutskie said she did not see the sign, though she conceded that she had been advised against swimming with the sharks.
"Against my boyfriend's wishes and his parents' wishes. They were just screaming at me not to do it," she said, WSVN reported.
But she denied that she performed a stunt to gain Instagram followers.
"They took the information they wanted and really spun the story in a way that I'm a stupid blond Instagram model," she told the BBC.
"I've definitely received a lot of rude and hateful comments from people that were saying ridiculous things," she said. "But it's the internet, right? I guess you know you have to take it with a grain of salt and it comes with the territory."
Asked if she'd swim with the sharks again, she said she had no regrets.
"I don't regret it, and I would do it again to bring awareness," she said.
"Sharks are wonderful creatures and beautiful but you really need to respect them in their home and maybe not lean back,'' she told the Miami ABC affiliate.