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'Holy crap that happened' - Marine biologist recalls the moment she realised she'd been bitten by a crocodile

She's probably the only woman to be attacked by a crocodile on TV and marine biologist Melissa Marquez has recounted the terrifying moment in Cuba earlier this year on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Ms Marquez is known as the "Mother of Sharks" and at only 24 has already featured on the Discovery Channel.

The shark woman from the Caribbean is in Timaru as part of the Ideas Festival, exposing science to kids who normally wouldn't have considered that that they, too, could become a scientist.

Despite working all over the world with sharks, Ms Marquez's closest call was with a different predator.

"While Filming for Shark Week this year I got bit and dragged by a three-metre crocodile," she said.

"We were night diving looking for the Queen which is a giant hammerhead in Cuba. I suddenly felt a really hard pressure on my left calf and started getting dragged backwards into the dirt."

She saw the funny side of the frightening ordeal.

"It took a little nibble to figure out if I was food or not. I think it realised 'I don't like Puerto Rican-Mexican' and spat me out."

The terrifying incident with the crocodile was caught on video by the Shark Week crew.

"It kind of just hit me a one point. And you can see it in the video they captured where I was 'holy crap that happened!'"

Asked why she works with sharks, Ms Marquez said: "I mean, they're just such misunderstood animals. And it's that fear people have of them that attracts me to them.

And if the class of Timaru children should have a close encounter with a shark or crocodile, the Mother of Sharks had some advice.

"For sharks, sometime the experts tell you to bump them on the snout. I would not do that. Have you ever tried to punch something under water? It's slow. And what is not slow in the water? A shark or a crocodile," Ms Marquez told the students.

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    Melissa Marquez is known as the "Mother of Sharks" and at only 24 has already featured on the Discovery Channel. Source: Seven Sharp