WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW
What began as a fun outing to swim with nurse sharks turned into a nightmare for one Utah family on vacation in the Bahamas.
Eight-year-old Asher Jones and his family were told that swimming with small nurse sharks was safe, but after the young boy walked into into the swallow water he was attacked, according to Pen News.
“I heard Asher scream — and not just any scream, the kind of scream that makes a mom’s world go into slow motion,” his mother, Christine, from Sandy, Utah, told the news agency. “Just thinking about his scream makes me feel sick and makes my heart rate go up.”
But her son was “very lucky,” she says. Her husband, Jeremy, quickly grabbed the shark, causing it to release and swim away.
“The shark’s upper jaw got him along the spine of his scapula,” she added. “I think this, along with Jeremy quickly pulling the shark off, prevented it from really latching on and the bite from going deeper — or worse, taking Asher under the water.”
She told Pen News that the incident “could have been a recipe for disaster and serious injury.”
“It could easily have pulled Asher under where there would have been five other sharks, chum, people panicking and a bleeding little boy,” she said.
Asher, who has had nightmares since the accident, told the news outlet that he thought he was going to die and that “it was horrifying.”
“At first I thought it was my dad pretending, but then I was like ‘no, my dad would not try to hurt me’ because it was digging into my freaking flesh,” he said. “It was the most scary thing in my entire life.”
Luckily, two medics were on the same excursion and helped clean his wounds.
“Once he realized he was okay, he was really amazing,” said Christine. “He experienced many intense emotions in a short amount of time.
According to Insider, another person was bitten by a nurse shark in the Bahamas in June.
Nineteen-year-old Katarina Zarutskie, a student at the University of Miami, was pulled under the water, which “felt like 15 different people were squeezing my arm really, really hard,” she told the news outlet.
It took her a month to recover from the bite and she had to take multiple antibiotics to prevent infection. Doctors also told her that there are still pieces of a tooth in her arm and that she might need surgery.
Swimming with nurse sharks in the Exuma, Bahamas, area is a common activity, but Exuma Online warns people about the risks.
“Nurse sharks have extremely dangerous mouths,” according to the outlet. “Between their jaws, teeth, and sucking ability if they get a hold of you, it won’t end well. You can for sure pet them (their skin feels like sandpaper!) just limit the touching to their back.”
The sharks are “fairly domesticated and used to human interaction” because they’re fed on a daily basis by humans.
“This should help ease any fears you have about being around them,” the post continued. “Stay calm and treat them with respect, like you would when meeting someone else’s pet. They’ll swim right up to you, let you interact with them, heck they even have names!