Model Katarina Elle Zarutskie was attacked by a nurse shark while on a family trip. However, she missed a warning sign that stated that nurse sharks "can and do bite", reports NBC News. Her boyfriend's family warned her, but Zarutskie wanted the photo so badly she ignored them. 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.
"I don't regret it, and I would do it again to bring awareness", she said. Her boyfriend's father took several photos throughout the attack, capturing the exact moment that Zarutskie came in contact with the 5-foot-long shark.
She added: "I am so lucky to have my hand".
"It seemed safe, and I had seen all these photos, so I totally thought it was OK", Zarutskie told WPLG-TV.
One user wrote: "I think you handled the situation like a boss!"
The 19-year-old model, who has travelled around the world for work, endured the shock of her life as she was bitten by a shark while she was posing in the sea.
Since her story was featured in U.S. media, Katarina has been inundated with thousands of new followers and comments online, including a barrage of negativity from online trolls.
She suddenly topples into the water screaming as on-lookers rush to help her. I've been blessed and given this opportunity and I just want to figure out a way to use this as a positive platform to bring awareness to sharks and to the ocean and to the dying reef.
"But it's the internet right?" I know he mistook me. She went to the hospital to get treatment for her infected wounds.
Speaking to NBC News on Monday, Zarutskie said she had heard from locals that swimming with nurse sharks was risk free. Now, nurse sharks are largely pretty docile, but it's always worth remembering that they are still sharks.
"You can't even predict how another human is going to react to situations, let alone an animal. I definitely will be thinking twice but it won't be scaring me away!"
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