On Easter Sunday, a group of fishermen had gone to fish around the Pikelot Atoll, but failed to return home, per BBC. Family members notified the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Sub-Center in Guam about their missing relatives.

It wasn’t going to be an easy search. According to CNN, Pikelot Atoll is part of the Federated States of Micronesia that includes over 600 islands in over 2.5 million square kilometers of ocean. A U.S. Navy jet that was stationed in Okinawa helping in the search saw the word “HELP” written out by palm leaves on Pikelot Atoll.

How did they get lost at sea?

According to CNN, when the three fishermen reached Pikelot Atoll their boat had gotten caught in some ocean swells and their motor got damaged. They made it to shore, but the radio they had brought with them lost power before they could call for someone.

The men were stuck at sea between March 31 to April 9, per BBC. They were able to survive off of coconuts and a fresh water well that was on the island, according to CNN.

They were found 115 miles away from where they started their journey, per The Guardian.

But they’re not the first lost mariners to be found on this island. BBC reported back in 2020 that three other sailors from Micronesia had strayed off course when their boat ran out of fuel and were there for three days until an Australian helicopter spotted them thanks to an SOS message on the beach.

What should you do if you get lost at sea?

Although circumstances that can lead to one being stranded at sea vary, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you have a better chance of survival. The University of Portsmouth explains how long a person can survive if they lack proper necessities:

  • Humans can only survive for a few minutes without air.
  • If there is no warmth, humans can only survive for a few hours.
  • Humans can survive up to a week in marine environments with minimum amounts of water.
  • And if there’s no food, humans can survive a maximum of 60 days.

They emphasize that if you get lost at sea, being out of the water is better than being in it. The biggest risk you face is dehydration. If you want to survive for more than a week, you need fresh water (if you were prepared, you may already have some water bottles on hand).

You can also collect rainwater in suitable containers. If you have no freshwater sources at all, you can (in desperate situations) eat fish eyes, fish lymph and turtle blood.

The next important thing is conserving body fluids. You can do this by moving as little as possible to prevent sweating and finding shelter or shade. You can also lower urine production by not drinking fresh water for the first 24 hours.

If you happen to be floating on something in the ocean, the waves can help you cool down during the day so you don’t over sweat.

What almost dying taught me about hope and joy