While in the Staniel Cay area in the Exuma islands last month, Katarina Zarutskie made a decision to go swimming with a pack of nurse sharks.
"A lot of locals that were just excited, and encouraging me to swim with them", Zarutskie, 19, said in an interview that aired Wednesday on "Good Morning America".
Zarutskie maintains she "love [s] sharks".
Now, nurse sharks are largely pretty docile, but it's always worth remembering that they are still sharks. "I just felt this huge - it nearly felt like 15 different people were holding onto my arm, really, really hard", Zarutske said.
Her boyfriend's father happened to photograph the entire incident; see his photos here. She was in the water as he boyfriend took photos as a shark latched onto her arm and dragged her underwater.
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She did not swim with the sharks through a tour company or any organization that required payment, but, having grown up as a surfer in Southern California, she said she was not afraid to jump in the water near a marina.
But while posing for the pictures a shark bit into the model's wrist and held her underwater for several seconds. "I've seen countless photos of people with them on Instagram".
Zarutskie said she immediately headed for the stairs to get out of the water, holding her bloody arm above her head to keep it out of the water. Zarutskie managed to wriggle free, but she knew if she thrashed around and dripped blood in the water, she might attract more sharks-so instead, she calmly stood up, grasping her wound to stanch the flow of blood, and was able to get of the water. She said the shark clamped down on her wrist and pulled her under.
As for Katarina, she know that the sharks didn't do anything wrong. The group passed an area in the ocean where several nurse sharks were swarming, and since it was promoted that swimming with these creatures was a safe and normal activity in the area, Katarina chose to hop in and get some photos (Note: a warning sign by the pool of sharks clearly stated that the animals "can and do bite" on occasion).
Since coming out of the water and reflecting on the situation, she added: "They are wild animals and it's an uncontrollable situation".