North America

Instagram model bitten by shark while posing for holiday photo

Katarina Zarutskie in the water with nurse sharks. Source: Katarina Zarutskie

The US model was trying to "connect with nature".

An Instagram model from California had an almighty scare after she was dragged underwater when swimming with nurse sharks in the Bahamas.

Katarina Zarutskie, 19, required stitches after she was bitten and dragged underwater by one of the sharks.

Zarutskie was visiting her boyfriend in an area known as Staniel Cay, in the Exuma islands, when she decided to join other snorkellers interacting with a school of nurse sharks off a dock.

"A lot of locals that were just excited, and encouraging me to swim with them," Zarutskie told US TV show Good Morning America

"I saw it as an opportunity for me, another chance to connect with nature."

After tourists began taking photos of Zarutskie posing in the middle of a school of nurse sharks, she was suddenly dragged underwater for several seconds.

Her boyfriend's father captured the incident on camera.

Instagram model Katarina Zarutskie pulled under water by a shark.
Zarutskie is pulled under water by a shark.
Katarina Zarutskie

Zarutskie emerged from the water covering a bite on her arm to stop blood spreading through the water.

“When he bit me, supposedly it sounded like a big vacuum seal sort of sound," she said.

"Next thing I knew I was underwater and I felt this."

Zarutskie required stitches and has some fragments of the shark's teeth left in the wound, according to the BBC.

Katarina Zarutskie's injury.
Katarina Zarutskie's injury.
Katarina Zarutskie

Katarina Zarutskie bandaged up after the incident.
Katarina Zarutskie bandaged up after the incident.

Nurse sharks are slow-moving bottom-dwellers that grow to around 2.5 metres long. They have strong jaws and are generally - for the most part - harmless to humans, according to National Geographic.

Since her story made international headlines she has been inundated with social media comments, plenty of which have been negative.

But the model said she has taken the comments with a "grain of salt" and described Exumas as the "most beautiful place" she has visited.

"I'm not afraid of the ocean and, if anything, I respect and love it more," she told the BBC.

"He [the shark] didn't mean it, he's a wild animal, and I think anyone that goes and swims with nurse sharks needs to realise it is an uncontrollable situation."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch