A trio of teenagers adrift for two months in the South Pacific were found yesterday by a New Zealand fishing boat "in a lonely part of the ocean." They'd subsisted on rainwater, coconuts, and the meat of a single bird.
15 year olds Samuel Perez and Filo Filo and 14 year old Edward Nasau were last seen in early October (accounts range from 50-61 days). The Sydney Morning Herald describes them as "castaways," while ABC News takes a gentler path, explaining that that the boys "los[t] their way during a sporting event."
At least one of the boys had already been given a memorial service on Atafu Atoll; island residents were obviously delighted at news of their accidental rescue. (One news outlet just couldn't help themselves in the midst of the glee: "A New Zealand tuna fishing boat picked up the unusual catch off the coast of Fiji," they reported, and I'll admit it: I chuckled.)
What's really insane is how the three teenagers got through the ordeal:
They told the tuna vessel operators that they survived on nothing but coconuts, water trapped by a tarpaulin and a seabird that landed on their boat.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Tai Fredricsen, first mate of San Nikunau, the tuna vessel that spotted the teens, said they spent the time on his ship listening to music and watching cartoons.
Weird, we were just talking about Ben Affleck teaching a generation how to collect rainwater in The Voyage of the Mimi earlier! (With respect to the bird, I cant help but be reminded of this exchange — not embeddable, but scroll to right near the end of this video):
Velda: Is this what you call roughing it?
Phyllis: One bathroom for nine people? Yes!
Velda: Maybe you've never heard of a troop called the Redfeathers. They were out at that same site camping last week. They cut down trees, and wove their own cloth, and lived off of berries and squirrel meat. And not once did they have to go to the bathroom.
Phyllis, horrified: Must have been the squirrel meat!
One source said that "he told the boys they were smart to eat the bird rather than trying to catch fish, which would have further dehydrated them." They were also lucky to be found when they did: it hadn't rained in several days, and they'd begun to sip seawater, a giant no-no, as anyone who has seen Mimi and/or Waterworld can attest.
It's a happy ending, or maybe not so fast. As Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop reports:
SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: The three boys are being taken to Fiji. [One of the boy's Aunt] Fekei says a party awaits them back in Tokelau and perhaps a few stern words.
FEKEI: We were talking with them last night and he was asking for forgiveness. And I think they did learn a big lesson.
Ha. Well, I can sympathize there. Because honestly, don't we ALL have that aunt to deal with during this holiday season? The screenplay writes itself.
Teenage castaways survive 50 days on a wing and a prayer [Sydney Morning Herald (photo also via SMH)]
Miracle at Sea: Boys Rescued From Pacific Make It To Land [ABC News]