A British holidaymaker has revealed how she thought she might die after a dolphin nearly bit her foot off while taking a wild bath.
Claire Bye was traumatized after an animal attacked her during the trip of a lifetime in Bolivia.
Claire, 28, was swimming in a river in Santa Rosa de Yacuma when a pink river dolphin bit her on the right foot.
She desperately tried to free herself as spectators frantically tried to pull her out of the water.
The mammal finally released its grip about 20 seconds later and swam away.
But she was “horrified” to see her foot “pour blood” after it was partially severed.
“I’ve never known pain like this,” Claire said.
“I remember seeing a dolphin out of the corner of my eye and it suddenly pounced on me.”
“These were not the sweet-looking dolphins we are used to seeing – they had a huge beak and a mouth full of spiky teeth.
“I screamed and screamed, but it just wouldn’t let me go.
“It felt like he had me for 15 minutes, but apparently it was only 20 seconds before he let go and floated away.”
Claire was rushed to the local hospital, which she described as more of a “backyard” with an ant nest in the bathroom.
“The people there were very nice and did what they could to sew up my foot, but they didn’t have any medication,” she said.
But her condition worsened four days later when she was stricken with a potentially life-threatening infection.
It was only after frantic calls to the British Embassy that she was rushed to a hospital in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, for urgent treatment.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to lose a foot or even my life,” she said.
It was another two weeks before she was able to return home to Bristol, where she underwent surgery to transfer tissue from her groin to her foot.
She then spent another two weeks recuperating.
Claire left the UK in October 2022, intending to spend seven months traveling around Central and South America.
But her journey was cut short just three months after an incident that occurred during a jungle expedition to explore the Amazon basin – the part of South America drained by the Amazon.
She and a friend joined a family tour group led by an experienced guide.
They spent time swimming and playing with pink river dolphins.
But Claire felt uneasy when the baby tried to pick her up.
“Then the dolphins became aggressive and several people came out of the water with scratches on their legs where they had been bitten,” he recalls.
She decided not to go back into the water but instead played with the dolphins with a bottle of water as shown by the guide.
But a dolphin attacked her after she accidentally dropped the bottle in shallow water and jumped in to retrieve it.
Claire is now incapacitated after a “traumatic” experience and saw a psychologist who helped her process the incident that left her feeling “lost”.
“I used to really love wild swimming and hope to be able to do so in the future, but I will never swim with dolphins again,” she said.
“I regret never getting back in the water, it’s hard to think what life would have been like if that (didn’t) happen.
“What should have been a beautiful experience changed my life forever. Dolphins rarely attack humans, and I never thought it would happen to me.”
An investigation into the incident has been launched and warning signs have now been placed around the river to warn tourists.
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