A terrified tourist was left with gaping wounds after a shark tried to ‘swallow' her arm whole on Christmas Day.
Spaniard Cristina Ojeda-Thies (38) had a lucky escape after being bitten while swimming with her family just metres from the shoreline of Arinaga Beach in Aguimes, eastern Gran Canaria.
Posting graphic images of the attack on Twitter, the 38-year-old said she had had a “face-to-face meeting with a shark” while going for a swim after Christmas Day dinner.
“Things that happen when you swim in the Canary Islands in December.”
Recalling the attack, she told a local paper: “I noticed something pulling at my left arm but I didn’t pay any attention because it felt like a dog biting you when it’s playing.
“Half a second later I felt something grabbing hold of me, I turned round and I saw it pulling at me.
Hoy he tenido un encuentro cara a cara con un tiburón. Cosas que pasan cuando nadas en Canarias en diciembre. pic.twitter.com/aZ7qSmnEGC— Cris Ojeda-Thies (@ojedathies) December 25, 2015
“It was a fish. I hit it with my right hand and I saw the shark’s fins as it swam off.”
The 38-year-old from Madrid posted further images after the attack, including one of doctors treating her wounds.
Joking that she had suffered more painful injuries from “falling off my bike or while cooking”, she the incident had left her shaken.
“Everything happened very quickly, in seconds. Although it wasn’t a painful attack, I didn’t realise how serious it was till I got out of the water.”
“But it’s true it was something that frightened me. Thankfully I was able to react.”
Local authorities in Gran Canaria have sought to play down the incident, for fear it would impact on tourism.
Pascual Calabuig, director of the council-run Wild Fauna Recovery Centre in Gran Canaria, described the incident as “very rare.”
While Fernando Frias, President of the Canary Islands Shark Alliance which promotes shark conservation, called it a “one-off”.
He added: "I doubt something like this will happen again in the next 50 years so people shouldn't be afraid."