Whale Attack Survivor Shares Her Story

INSIDE EDITION has the story of a woman who survived an attack by a pilot whale, and gets her reaction to the recent tragedy at SeaWorld.

"I was very terrified, I was afraid I was going to die and never see my family again," says Lisa Costello, one of the few women in the world to know firsthand what it's like to be attacked by a whale.

It happened in 1991, when she was snorkeling off the coast of Hawaii. Pretty soon she was surrounded by a pod of pilot whales. She says at first they seemed playful.

"The pilot whale that grabbed you, did that whale intend to hurt you?" asks INSIDE EDITION's Diane McInerney.

"It was not aggressive at all, that's my opinion and that's what I really felt in my heart. He did not want to hurt me, he was playing," says Costello.

Suddenly, one of the animals bit her leg and then grabbed her by the ankle, dragging her under. Down and down she went, ensnared in the jaws of the giant beast. Costello had no scuba gear. She was forced to hold her breath the whole time.

"I was trying to keep my body alive, and I was down to maybe one or two more seconds, I really felt like I was going to drown," Costello says.

When her lungs were ready to burst, the whale returned her to the surface. Miraculously she suffered only minor injuries.

"He took his entire body and just bolted me up to the surface as though he knew I couldn't breathe and I was going to drown," Costello tells INSIDE EDITION.

But she's surprised that an encounter with a killer whale at SeaWorld turned deadly.

Attacks by whales in the wild are extremely rare; about two dozen attacks have been reported at parks since the 1970s.