A CAPE Town environmental science student, who was bitten by a shark on Sunday off the famous Two-Mile Reef at Sodwana Bay on KwaZulu-Natal's North Coast, hopes her leg will heal completely.

Sarah Haiden, 21, was snorkelling, exploring the reef about one kilometre out to sea when the shark attacked.

She said she was not certain what had happened until after the shark had attacked.

"It must have been about five minutes after my friends had jumped back on the boat that the shark attacked, "she said.

"As I tried to jump onto the boat I felt a pull on my leg, but at first I thought it was a joke until I saw the shark.

"When I tried to kick back the shark clamped down. Then I saw it and, boy, did I scream."

Haiden, an avid open-ocean swimmer and cross-country runner, said the shark bite had severed several of the tendons in her left leg.

"Though I have no feeling in four of my five toes I believe I will heal well."

Haiden said her spirits were lifted when she received a call from Natalie du Toit, the para Olympics swimming champion who lost her leg in 2001 in amotor-bike horror crash.

She headed back to Cape Town yesterday to continue her recovery, which she said she was hoping would be a speedy one.

KwaZulu-Natal sharks board spokesperson Sabine Winter said they had not established which species of shark had attacked Haiden.

But they would be studying the photographs of her severely bitten leg to determine that.