WARNING: Some may find the following images disturbing.
With “Shark Week” approaching, heads will be filled with images of vicious sharks that lie in wait in the oceans to just attack humans and people who are not experts or are educated will interject falsely as we now see in a Buzzfeed article about 19-year-old Instagram model Katarina Zarutskie who says she was “attacked” by a shark while trying to pose for a picture.
Zarutskie was vacationing in the Bahamas with her boyfriend and family and took many opportunities to snap pictures of her enjoying the beach. Then the ultimate opportunity arrived when the vacationers came upon a school of Nurse Sharks whose “docile” behavior make them attractions for swimmers in the Bahamas who want to swim with sharks.
Zarutskie floated motionless on her back as her boyfriend took the pictures but soon afterward, one nurse shark bites her and pulls her under the water. To Katarina’s credit, she remained calm and was able to free herself from the shark’s jaws and get out of the water safely sustaining a minor bite wound.
Was this Instagram model bit by a shark? Yes. Was this model “attacked” just as she said along with Buzzfeed? NOPE!
Here’s what really happened. Zarutskie sustained what some call a “bite and run” or as they’re commonly called, “bite/taste test”. Sharks and some carnivorous fish species like piranhas tend to perform this simple action when they’re unfamiliar with something (in many cases, someone) and want to test it out, as the term implies, seeing if (in this case) Zarutskie was edible.
Another factor that contributed to this was that Katarina was floating motionless…yes that would be a cool shot BUT not good to do around sharks. By her lying motionless only peaked the curiosity of the sharks (yes, there was more than one…) to investigate her. A lot of the times in the ocean, sharks feed not only on the prey they’ve hunted but the remains of sea life as well, think of it as shark take-out, there’s no need to chase and kill. Just eat your fill.
Seeing the picture of Zarutskie’s bite wound it’s safe to say this was all this incident was, a simple bite luckily from a less aggressive species of shark, though they’re considered to be less aggressive it does not mean you won’t get bit or legitimately attacked by one (which is rare) remember, they’re animals after all.
Earlier I said that there was more than one shark… if you look at Zaruskie’s feet you will see there was a second shark at her foot most likely about to perform a “bump and run” which is a behavior of sharks where they hit their head onto an animal to see how they’ll react to it, to see the reaction, if there’s no reaction then they’ll move up to a “bite and run”.
This article by Save Our Seas offers more insight into shark bites, though this is mainly about Great White Sharks, the behavior tends to be shared by many sharks.
Final Note: Notice as all that happened the boyfriend just kept taking pictures?