Approximately two to three miles out from the St. Petersburg Pier, time slipped by for Natalie Branda on Saturday.
"We were jumping off the boat, swimming around, floating for a few hours. Just having a fun day," the 26-year-old woman said.
According to a report from FOX 13 in Tampa, Branda was swimming in the water while celebrating her friend Allie’s birthday. But at around 8 p.m., the day turned from a celebration to an emergency.
"I remember like trying to attach two floaties together. I accidentally dropped one and splashed the water," she said.
Branda didn’t see what happened next, but she felt it.
"I just felt pressure, and it released, and I was like ‘I got bit.' I swam the fastest I ever swam to the boat," said Branda.
Her friend Allie Mucks had just gotten out of the water five minutes before.
"I think the look in their eyes kind of made us realize it was a little bit more serious than we were anticipating," said Mucks.
With Branda's boyfriend by her side, she climbed aboard the sailboat.
"I could only see my stomach at the time and everyone on the boat was 'Oh, my God, it's not that bad,' and then I turned around and everyone was like, ‘Oh, my God,’" she said.
A bite mark, stretching from her bottom to her stomach, was visible.
"It was pretty terrifying. We just all kind of put pressure on her wounds and everything," said Allie.
Rushing back to the dock, Branda’s friends called 911, and EMS was waiting. In the hospital, she received confirmation she had been bitten by a shark and needed 14 stitches.
"We are invading their home. It sucks that this happened, but when you're entering and being with large creatures in their home, you have to respect them," said Branda.
Dr. Gavin Naylor, a renowned shark expert and the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, said it was a large shark that bit her. Based on her injuries, Dr. Naylor said it was a soft bite, with the shark being curious and investigating.
"It's not very common that people experience that and walk away with just some stitches," said Muck.
Branda and her friends know she’s lucky.
"I don’t know if I’ll do what we did last time. The water was kind of murky. It was the perfect cocktail for the perfect storm. I’ll probably get back in the water, but I need to recover first," said Branda.
Branda says her injuries are so severe that she can’t work at this time and her friends and family are helping raise money for her online.