STANIEL CAY, Bahamas (CNN) – It seemed like the perfect holiday photo opportunity — crystal blue waters and a pack of docile nursing sharks lazing on the docks of Staniel Cay in the Bahamas. But when Instagram model Katarine Zarutskie got into the water to join the sharks, one clamped its jaws onto her arm and pulled her underwater.
“All of a sudden, it felt like 15 people were squeezing on my wrist really, really, really hard,” Zarutskie recalled. “Next thing I knew, I was underwater and I felt this, and the adrenaline just kicked in.”
The 19-year-old California model is no stranger to the beach. She was inspired to swim with the sharks, she said, by seeing similar photos before. “It seemed safe, and I’d seen all these photos, so I totally thought it was okay,” Zarutskie said.
When her boyfriend’s father started taking photos of Zarutskie floating amongst the sharks, he unwittingly captured one of the sharks submerging her. More photos show Zarutskie covering her wound as she rushed to dry land.
The owner of the marina stated that nurse sharks were typically docile, but the sharks could have been feeding and might have mistaken Zarutskie’s fingers for food.
Zarutskie emerged from the incident shaken, but relatively unscathed. Despite her ordeal, she does not warn others from repeating the experience. But she does urge caution. “If you do swim with them, if you have the opportunity,” she added, “you do have to take in consideration the risks.”
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