A stranded sailor and his dog have been rescued in the South Pacific Ocean after months at sea, rescuers told Australian media over the weekend.
The sailor, Tim Shaddock, 51, and Bella, the dog, departed from La Paz, Mexico, three months ago. A month into his journey, a storm struck his white catamaran, wiping out all electronics. Shaddock said he and Bella survived three months at sea eating raw fish and drinking rainwater.
They were rescued by a Mexican tuna trawler over the weekend.
“I have been through a very difficult ordeal at sea,” Shaddock told, adding that he had fishing and other survival gear with him.
“I’m just needing rest and good food because I’ve been alone at sea a long time,” he said, adding, “I have not had food, enough food, for a long time.”
A doctor who treated Shaddock on the trawler told that he had “normal vital signs.”
Shaddock and Bella were spotted last week by a helicopter accompanying a tuna trawler, which was on its way back to Mexico. It was unclear when Shaddock first left Mexico and where he and Bella were rescued.
The trawler was on its way back to the west coast of Mexico, where Shaddock would get further care,
Shaddock said he avoided sunburn by sheltering under his boat’s canopy, eating raw fish and drinking rainwater.
Mike Tipton, a physiology professor at the extreme environment laboratory at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, said, “If you get sunburn, that affects your ability to regulate your body temperature.” He said Shaddock could otherwise sweat up to 1 or 2 liters an hour.
“If you do absolutely nothing and you rest and you stay cool, you can get away with as less as 110 to 220 milliliters of water a day,” he said.
Shaddock had to look after not only himself, but also his dog, which Tipton said, helped them survive.
“He had companionship. Once you’ve got enough food and water, then I think the dog has an advantage,” Tipton said. “Your survival time is as long as you can keep collecting water, getting occasional food and doing things that help you stay positive.”
Finding Shaddock was like finding a “needle in a haystack” in the enormous Pacific Ocean, Tipton said, especially because the helicopter was not even actively looking for him.
“It was a combination of luck and the right behavior,” he said