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She was feeding a shark by hand. Then it bit her finger and pulled.

Video captured the harrowing moment a shark pulled an Australian woman into the water by her finger.
Video captured the harrowing moment a shark pulled an Australian woman into the water by her finger. 7 News Australia Broadcast/Screenshot

Nurse sharks aren't known as the terrors of the seas like some other sharks are. The bottom-feeding fish are known more for their calm and sluggish behavior. Still, feeding one of them by hand may not have been one Australian woman's best choice.

Melissa Brunning was in northwestern Australia on a a friend's yacht when a group of nurse sharks began hanging out around the boat, according to Perth Now. The group of friends began feeding the shark, and even though she was scared, Brunning decided to give it a go too, according to the site. The problem? She tried to feed the shark by hand, rather than by just dropping the food in the water.

The shark zoomed up, grabbed her finger "like a Hoover" and pulled her straight into the crocodile-infested waters, Brunning told The West Australian.

"I think the shark was in shock as much as I was ... the only way I can describe it is this immense pressure and it felt like it was shredding it off the bone," she told the paper. "I came up and I was like, 'I've lost my finger, my finger's gone.'"

Video shows the harrowing incident. Brunning can be seen holding food out in her hand as the shark swims to her right. It passes in front of her, so the actual bite cannot be seen. But her sudden screams leave little doubt of what's happened as she struggles with the animal and then falls in the water.

The others who had been feeding the shark quickly rush to her aid before the video ends.

"I came up and I said I've lost my finger and I couldn't even look at my finger because I thought it was gone, and I thought if I looked at it I'd probably go into shock," Brunning told CNN.


Luckily, her finger wasn't actually gone, although it was badly hurt and developed a nasty infection that had to be treated with antibiotics, news.com.au reported.


Nurse sharks normally do not attack people, but when they do bite, they sometimes latch on and do not let go. That's what happened to a 23-year-old woman in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2016, the Miami Herald reported.


"Unprovoked attacks by nurse sharks are very rare," George Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack File, told the paper at the time. “They react to having their tail pulled or someone stepping on them."



Brunning told Perth Now the whole thing was "completely my fault" and added it was "not a shark attack" but "just a blonde doing a stupid thing."




“It was an unforgettable trip, I’ve got a cool story, a cool injury and I’ll have a cool little scar, but I’m just grateful that it wasn’t worse than what it was,” she told the paper.

Any advice to other sea adventurers?

"Just be mindful of your surroundings and don't feed sharks," she told CNN.


The chances of getting bit by a shark while swimming in the ocean are very, very slim. Just in case, and to hopefully ease your mind, here are a few tips from the International Shark Attack File to reduce your chances of getting bit.

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