BAHAMAS (WFLA) – An Instagram model and University of Miami nursing student is recovering after a shark bit her during a photo shoot in the Bahamas.
Katarina Zarutskie, 19, of Laguna Beach, Calif., was vacationing near Staniel Cay with her boyfriend’s family last month when the attack happened.
Zarutskie tells NBC News she was floating in the ocean and swimming with nurse sharks when she felt one clamp down on her arm and drag her under the water. Her boyfriend’s father, who was taking pictures throughout the incident, managed to capture the exact moment the shark bit her.
“He had my wrist in his mouth and I could feel his teeth sinking into my arm,” Zarutskie said. “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 teenager says she quickly swam away after she got free, and made sure to hold her arm out of the water to prevent the blood from drawing more sharks to her.
Zarutskie told NBC News she decided to swim with the nurse sharks because she heard from the locals that it was fun and safe.
“I grew up surfing, and sharks don’t scare me,” she said.
David Hocher, who owns a marina nearby, said that even though nurse sharks are normally docile, they can and do bite. He has a sign at his marina warning guests to swim with the sharks at their own risk.
Hocher told NBC News that based on the pictures he saw, it looks like the teen was swimming with the sharks during feeding time.
Zarutskie had her injury cleaned and wrapped at a nearby clinic after getting out of the water, but returned to Florida the following 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,” Zarutskie said. “I am so fortunate that I still have my arm and my life.”