Zarutskie was fortunate to still have her arm after a nurse shark latched onto it and dragged her under water while swimming with a school of seemingly harmless sharks in the Bahamas last month.
The 19-year-old Zarutskie, an avid surfer from Laguna Beach, California, and a nursing student, told Fox News she was on vacation with her boyfriend and his family when locals told her about the opportunity to swim with nurse sharks in Staniel Cay.
She added the locals were “very encouraging” in telling her to try the activity.
“We had seen all these nurse sharks swimming around the marina and I had already known, because I have surfed my whole life; that nurse sharks are relatively harmless
“I thought it was safe and I saw kids snorkeling, and against my boyfriend’s family’s wishes I thought it would be fine,” Zarutskie said.
The nursing student recalled everything being fine when she first entered the water until she leaned back and held her arms out.
Her boyfriend’s father was snapping pictures and captured the moment the shark sank its teeth into her arm and pulled her under.
“It was very scary. I was pulled under and I’m very fortunate it was a minor situation. It could have been way worse; they could have all started to attack given that they have a pack mentality,” Zarutskie said.
She added: “Everyone said they could hear the bite. They said it sounded like a big vacuum seal sort of thing and it all happened very fast. I was not screaming and crying. I was staying very calm.”
Zarutskie said her past training for surfing and scuba diving quickly kicked in and helped her in the situation.