California-based model Katarina Zarutskie’s photos are currently trending on Instagram, but perhaps not the way she intended to.
The 19-year-old influencer was recently on vacation in the Bahamas when she decided to take a picture with a school of docile nurse sharks. However, as she waded in the water, one of the sea creatures mistook her arm for food and bit her.
“All of a sudden it felt like 15 people were squeezing on my wrist really, really, really hard,” said Zarutskie. “Next thing I knew I was underwater and I felt this, and the adrenaline just kicked in.”
Fortunately, she remained calm and managed to untangle herself from the shark’s jaws. At the hospital, Zarutskie needed stitches and antibiotics for her wounds. She also may have to undergo surgery in the future to remove fragments of the animal’s teeth stuck in her flesh.
Once her pictures were published online, trolls swooped in and made fun of her ordeal, with some claiming she ignored safety warnings. In response, Zarutskie refuted those claims.
“They took the information they wanted and really spun the story in a way that I’m a stupid blonde Instagram model,” she told BBC. “I’ve definitely received a lot of rude and hateful comments from people that were saying ridiculous things.”
She added: “From my previous knowledge from surfing and scuba diving, I know nurse sharks are usually very safe. I’ve seen countless photos of people with them on Instagram.”
Despite her harrowing experience, Zaruskie stated that the encounter hasn’t fazed her – though she warns about the dangers of swimming with nurse sharks.
“If you do swim with them – if you have the opportunity – you do have to take in consideration the risks.”