When her 8-year-old son Asher was attacked by a nurse shark on their family vacation, mother Christine Jones says the boy went through a wide range of emotions.
“He started with sheer terror,” Christine Jones said, according to The Tribune. “He literally thought he was going to die – to extreme joy in realising he was okay and had the best story ever to tell.”
Jeremy Jones, Asher’s father, told KTSU that his family had been feeding and swimming with different animals as a part of their vacation in the Bahamas when they decided to let their 8-year-old son go into the water and feed some nurse sharks.
No one was worried about the sharks, Jeremy Jones said, as they are known to be docile.
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“It was portrayed that we weren’t in any major or real danger,” he said, according to KTSU.
Nurse sharks are “for the most part, harmless to humans,” according to National Geographic, but they also have “very strong jaws filled with thousands of tiny, serrated teeth.”
Dr. Chris Pepin-Neff, an expert on sharks at the University of Sydney, wrote on Twitter that it’s “exceedingly rare” to see a nurse shark attack.
Assuming the nurse sharks were safe, however, proved to be a mistake for the Jones’ family.
Christine Jones said Asher went into the waters off the Exuma Cays while chum was being thrown in the water to feed the nurse sharks, according to The Tribune. As she recorded on her phone, the mom says, she heard any parent’s worst nightmare.
“Not just any scream; the kind of scream that makes a mum’s world go into slow motion,” she told The Tribune. “Just thinking about his scream makes me feel sick and makes my heart rate go up.”
As seen in the beginning of this video from PEOPLE Magazine, a small nurse shark latches onto Asher’s shoulder — as multiple adults rush over and pry the hungry animal away.
Jeremy Jones, one of those adults, explained how he managed to separate the shark from his screaming son, Fox13 reported.
“I was able to grab onto the shark as it grabbed onto his back,” he said, according to Fox13. “And my left hand fingers went into his gills and my right hand touched on one of the fins, but as soon as I did that the shark let him go.”
Despite the scary attack, Asher doesn’t need any stitches and said he is “so lucky that happened to me” because of the cool story it gives him, according to KTSU. He added that “I think I will swim with sharks again.”
And what did his mom take away from the experience?
“After doing some research about nurse sharks and the risks of interaction,” she told the Tribune, “I would not now allow my children to get into the water and interact the way they did, especially with chum being thrown in.”