Shark drags Aussie woman into water
THERE'S a few things Australia is well-known for: Vegemite, Hugh Jackman, and our particularly aggressive wildlife.
And it's not just foreign tourists who need to be mindful.
Melissa Brunning got the shock of her life when a shark she was feeding latched onto her index finger and dragged her into the water.
The 34-year-old Perth woman was standing on the back of a yacht in Dugong Bay in the remote Kimberley Region, around 250km north of Broome, when she tried to handfeed four tawny nurse sharks swimming nearby.
"It happened so quickly. All I could really focus on was the fact that my finger is gone," she told 7 News. "It clamped on it and it felt like it was shredding off the bone.
"I came up and I was like, 'I've lost my finger'. I couldn't even look at the finger because I thought if I looked at it and saw it was gone, I'd probably go into shock."
Nurse sharks are slow-moving bottom-dwellers that are generally harmless to humans, according to National Geographic. But the magazine notes they can be huge - up to 4m - and have strong jaws filled with thousands of tiny teeth. The sharks will bite defensively if stepped on or if they feel their space is being invaded.
The good news was her finger was still attached to her hand - she sustained cuts, a fracture and a torn ligament, but it was still intact.
The bad news was it soon became badly infected, and Melissa had to go to hospital as soon as she got back to Perth.
But she took full responsibility for the incident, telling the West Australian it was "completely my fault" and "just a blond doing a stupid thing".
"It's not the shark's fault at all, but it could have been a lot worse," she told the paper. "I'm not a shark victim … I have full respect for sharks, I think they're incredible.
"I've always had the opinion that when you're in the water, they're top of the food chain - it's their domain."