Instagram model gets bitten, dragged underwater while posing with sharks

PHOTO: Instagram/Katarina Zarutskie

Swimming with sharks - sounds like the perfect photo opportunity for Instagram.

So Katarina Zarutskie, a lifestyle blogger who was vacationing at the Bahamas with her boyfriend, waded into the crystal clear waters to join a shiver of nurse sharks.

As she floated on her back, one of them sank its teeth into her arm and dragged her underwater, CNN reported.

Zarutskie struggled and managed to free herself from its grip, cover her bleeding wrist, and rush out of the water.

All this was caught on camera by her boyfriend's father.

The 19-year-old undergrad escaped with fragments of shark teeth in a wound that will leave a nasty scar.

Keeping her cool prevented the encounter from turning deadly.

"I think if someone was screaming and flailing around it definitely could have changed the situation," said Zarutskie, who grew up doing water sports in California.

She told the BBC: "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."

https://twitter.com/channeltennews/status/1017155318004908032

However docile, nurse sharks will defend themselves with those chompers if disturbed.

The slow-moving creatures found in warm, shallow waters can grow up to 4.3m long and have strong jaws filled with thousands of tiny saw-like teeth, according to the National Geographic.

After her story was featured by US media, the teen was harassed by online trolls who called her a "stupid blonde Instagram model."

"I've definitely received a lot of rude and hateful comments from people that were saying ridiculous things."

And while most people would shy away from sharks once bitten, she said: "I'm not afraid of the ocean and if anything I respect and love it more."

"If you do swim with them - if you have the opportunity - you do have to take in consideration the risks."

After all, you only live (and die) once.

minlee@sph.com.sg