A Kritibati policeman was rescued by a shark last week after being adrift at sea for 15 weeks.
Toakai Teitoi’s incredible ordeal began on May 27 when he flew from his island home of Maiana to the Kiribati (an island in the tropical Pacific) capital of Tarawa to be sworn in as a police officer. After the ceremony Mr. Teitoi took in a movie that depicted the true story of four Kiribati men who had been lost at sea for six weeks. Only two of the men survived the ordeal. Ironically, the following day would find Teitoi living the experience of the movie he had just seen.
On May 28 Teitoi began his journey home in the company of his brother-in-law Ielu Falaile. The two men boarded their 15-foot wooden boat with the intention of fishing during the two-hour trip back to Maiana. After fishing a short while the two men took a midday nap. When they awoke they could no longer see land. Efforts to find land ended with them expending all of their fuel.
Teito explained his situation to the Daily Mail. “We had plenty of food and we could catch fish, but the problem was there was nothing to drink,” Teito said. After 5 weeks adrift Falaile succumbed to dehydration and died. “I left him there [in the boat] overnight and slept next to him, like at a funeral,” Teitoi explained. Teitoi lowered his body into the sea the next day. The following day brought heavy rain that allowed Teitoi to fill two 5-gallon jugs with fresh water to drink.
Several weeks later Teitoi’s water supply was exhausted leaving him weak and at the mercy of the unrelenting tropical sun. Teitoi was avoiding the sun by staying beneath a canvas cloth when he felt a heavy bump against the bottom of his boat. “I looked over the side and saw a six-foot shark circling my boat, but it was mainly bumping against the hull. It definitely caught my attention because I had been fast asleep. Then, because I was now awake, I looked around me and saw the stern of a ship. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could just make out the crew who were looking at me through binoculars.” After 15 weeks at sea Teitoi was rescued. Teitoi credits the shark with saving his life stating that he would have remained under the cloth had the shark not brushed up against his boat. Teitoi has vowed to never set foot on a boat again.
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