Do it for the ‘gram is all fun and game until someone gets injured and in this case, bitten by a shark. Instagram model and Miami University nursing student, Katarina Zarutskie was posing for a photo while swimming with sharks when she got bit.
The 19-year-old was on vacation with her boyfriend and his family in the Exuma islands in the Bahamas. According to the BBC, after having lunch in Staniel Cay, Zarutskie noticed people snorkeling and interacting with nurse sharks. Zarutskie isn’t a stranger to the water. She grew up in California living at the beach and now goes to school in Miami, Florida.
“From my previous knowledge from surfing and scuba diving, I know nurse sharks are usually very safe,” she told the BBC. “I’ve seen countless photos of people with them on Instagram.”
She’s not lying. Swimming with sharks is a popular Instagram trope that most beach based influencers has recreated to some capacity. Exuma is known for these pictures, along with swimming with pigs. A quick scroll through the location tag on Instagram you can see hundreds of photos of girls relaxing in a pool of sharks.
Zarutskie said that after posing with the sharks a local told her to lay back and float. “At this point people were starting to take photos and right as I lay back, after a few seconds, I was pulled under,” she said.
Her boyfriend’s dad was snapping photos of her and accidentally caught the whole thing on camera. She was pulled underwater and had to rip her arm from the shark’s mouth. In the photos taken by her boyfriend’s you can see her stand back up, cover her bite and hold her bitten arm above her head. This is too slow down the bleeding and keep her blood out the water, she was still surrounded by sharks.
“At that point your body has so much adrenaline going and you just have to get out of the situation, but I stayed extremely calm,” she says. “I think if someone was screaming and flailing around it definitely could have changed the situation.”
She had to get stitches and antibiotics for her bite. There are still some fragments of teeth in her wound. She’ll be left with a nasty scar but it could have been worse.
Bite aside, Zarutskie is upset with how her story is being spun into her being “stupid Instagram model.” She says she followed all the rules and wasn’t even planning on posting the photos.
“I’ve definitely received a lot of rude and hateful comments from people that were saying ridiculous things,” Zarutskie told the BBC. “But it’s the internet right? I guess you know you have to take it with a grain of salt and it comes with the territory.”
But even after this crazy and horrifying incident, Zarutskie isn’t afraid of the water. “He didn’t mean it: he’s a wild animal, and I think anyone that goes and swims with nurse sharks needs to realize it is an uncontrollable situation,” she said about the shark.
“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!”