When you set out to sail around the world, mishaps are bound to happen. Still, the predicament these three sailors found themselves in was one even they didn’t anticipate. Stanislav Beryozkin and Evgeny Kovalevsky of Russia, along with Frenchman Vincent Thomas Garate, were having a normal evening on their inflatable catamaran when they caught the attention of some sharks.
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Luckily, these weren’t the type of sharks most people imagine. Instead, they were cookiecutter sharks —these aquatic guys are much smaller at about 17 to 22 inches long and are typically not considered to be dangerous to humans. Despite their small size, however, they can do quite a lot of damage in large groups.
As much as this experienced crew knew to prepare for sharks, they were shocked by the number of cookiecutter sharks that began to swarm their boat.
“There were many,” Stanislav said. “Maybe 20, maybe 30, maybe more.”
Together, this group of tiny sharks were able to severely damage the 30-foot boat. Even the double-layered material the sailors used to protect the inflatable hulls was no match for them — many of the sharks were successful in jumping and biting above the protective material.
As soon as the sailors recognized they were in danger, they sent out an emergency beacon, signaling the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to come to their rescue — they were 519 miles away from Cairns, Australia, and they needed help fast.
For days the sharks wore down on their boat. By the time the men were rescued, their boat was nearly submerged with a front section of a hull missing entirely. The boat is no longer operable, but thanks to the quick thinking of these sailors and the swiftness of their rescuers, all three sailors are safe and back on land.
“The emergency beacon absolutely saved their life,” Joe Zeller, duty manager at the maritime agency’s Canberra response center said. “It enabled the Rescue Coordination Center to identify the precise location and tailor the most appropriate and quickest response to rescue them.”
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