"It was an accident and he probably thought I was food, and I am very lucky that I was able to rip my arm away from him", Katarina said.
"I am so fortunate that I still have my arm and my life", she told NBC.
Katarina made a decision to swim with a herd of nurse sharks at Staniel Cay - but things went wrong when a 5-foot nurse shark bit her arm and started to drag her under the water.
Speaking with 7News on Tuesday, Zarutskie showed the wrist injury she suffered when a nurse shark bit down on it earlier this summer.
The Southern California 19-year-old model grew up surfing, so she remained calm.
With her boyfriend's dad on photographer duty, she got in the water and took a series of photos.
"I think if someone was screaming and flailing around it definitely could have changed the situation". She was swimming on Stanley Key Island, known for it's crystal clear water and normally docile nurse sharks.
She says she is blessed that she was only left with a gash and teeth marks on her arm after the incident.
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Katarina also rejects accusations she ignored local advice or went into the water during feeding time.
The nursing student recalled everything being fine when she first entered the water - until she leaned back and held her arms out.
Zarutskie maintains she "love [s] sharks".
"I would recommend people to do it, but be smart about it". "Next thing I knew I was underwater and I felt this".
She does not want the experience or photographs to put off others from visiting the area or interacting with local wildlife when overseas, and describes the Exumas as the "most lovely place" she has ever visited.
Earlier this month, a woman on vacation in Dugong Bay, Australia, experienced a similar ordeal with a tawny nurse shark.
"You can't even predict how another human is going to react to situations, let alone an animal". The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.