“He was very, very lucky. There is no doubt about it. Another half an hour, and he was a goner," said RNLI coxswain Finbarr O'Connell.
A swimmer lost at sea for about 12 hours was finally found by a rescue team, and he has to thank a bunch of dolphins for it. He was spotted on August 22, 2021, by Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers. When they saw him, he was surrounded by a pod of dolphins, BBC reports. The rescue was initiated after a set of clothes was found on the shore of the beach.
"At 20:30, the volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a pod of dolphins and a head above the water about two-and-a-half miles off Castlegregory beach," the RNLI said, reports PEOPLE. "The casualty was conscious and immediately recovered onto the lifeboat and brought to Fenit Harbour to be taken to hospital."
Dolphins Alert Rescue Crew to Lost Swimmer Who Had Been Stranded for 12 Hours https://t.co/0cxQKoOR2o— People (@people) September 1, 2021
RNLI coxswain Finbarr O'Connell told The Irish Independent there were "a lot of dolphins around" the man when he and his crew finally located the lost swimmer. He added, "Maybe they helped him in some way or another: who knows?" The loving animals that saved the man's life were later identified as bottlenose dolphins living in Scotland's Moray Firth.
Since the swimmer, identified only as a man in his 30s, was wearing a swimsuit the entire time he was in the water, was "exhausted and hypothermic" when he was rescued. The weak man told rescuers he had been trying to swim out to Mucklaghmore Rock, which is over five miles from the beach where his clothes had been found.
Before they found the man surrounded by the dolphins, Fenit RNLI's Gerard O'Donnell revealed that the rescuers had been "scanning the water for any sign of movement and were worried that, with light fading, that they would not find anyone."
Meanwhile, O'Connell recalled that rescuers first thought they had spotted a seal when they saw the man's head in the water. “But then he put up his hand. It was a great, great moment for us,” he said. “The elation of seeing somebody floating alive in the water, rather than the other way, is so great. We have had too many bad outcomes, so it was absolutely fantastic to pick him up.
Once he was rescued, he was rushed to University Hospital Kerry, where he was expected to make a full recovery. Fenit RNLI volunteer Jackie Murphy said it was a "miracle" the man had survived the ordeal, crediting O'Connell with pinpointing the man’s likely location.
“It’s a miracle he was found,” she said.
However, O'Connell credited the entire team's efforts, saying, “The crew we have are all excellent. It’s good to get a positive result. Normally we go out, and it mightn’t be that positive. We are all just elated.”
wow that’s incredible how smart and helpful dolphins can be to humans ☺️— ꧁ᴍ꧂ (@mtworld) September 1, 2021
“He was very, very lucky. There is no doubt about it. Another half an hour, and he was a goner. None of us or the medics can believe he survived it.”
Murphy then noted that though this had a happy ending, not all cases are like this. “Always please tell somebody what time you are due back and where you are going,” she said.
Cover Image Source (Representative): Getty Images | Andrew TB Tan