Three boaters who failed to return from a fishing trip were rescued from shark-infested waters after the United States Coast Guard (USCG) witnessed a scene straight out of Jaws on Sunday 9 October.
The trio reportedly became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for more than a day after their 24-foot fishing boat sank at approximately 10am on Saturday morning, leaving them with no means of communication. After they were reported missing by a concerned family member, the USCG dispatched helicopter and boat crews for a rescue mission spanning 1,250 square miles—roughly the size of Rhode Island.
The boaters were first spotted about 25 miles off the coast of Empire, Louisiana, by the air crew from a USCG station in Corpus Christi, Texas. While one of the survivors was hoisted onto a helicopter with the help of a rescue swimmer, a boat crew pulled the other two aboard after witnessing them “fending off sharks, along with injuries to both boater’s hands.”
“The two boaters were pulled from the water by the boat crew before additional injuries could occur,” officials stated. A photo later shared by USCG Heartland showed large tears in one of the lifejackets which they said was the result of a gruesome shark attack.
“The survivors experienced severe hyperthermia, dehydration, fatigue, and shark attacks during their 28 hours adrift at sea,” USCG Air Station Corpus Christi wrote on Facebook, adding that all three boaters were then rushed to University Medical Center, New Orleans. While two of them suffered shark bites to their hands, one showed signs of severe hypothermia. As of today, all of them are reported to be in stable condition.
“We searched an area roughly the size of Rhode Island and are thankful to have found these missing boaters,” Lieutenant Commander Kevin Keefe told news outlets. “If the family member had not notified the Coast Guard, and if these three boaters were not wearing life jackets, this could’ve been a completely different outcome.”
In a Facebook post, USCG Heartland also went on to share a video of the rescue mission—in which the survivors were seen splashing desperately in what seemed like mildly-bloodied waters. “Rescued just in the nick of time,” the organisation wrote.