US Coast Guard officials were conducting a routine air patrol on Monday when they noticed movement on what should've been a deserted island in the Bahamas. It turns out a trio had been living on Anguilla Cay, a tiny chain of islands between the Bahamas and Cuba, since swimming there after their boat capsized in choppy waters five weeks ago. The first clue was a large makeshift flag, spotted from the air on Monday. A helicopter crew dropped a radio, food, and water and soon learned the Cuban nationals—two men and a woman—had been living off coconuts, conch meat, and rats for 33 days, report NBC News and the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The trio were rescued Tuesday and flown to a hospital in Key West, Fla., but were found to have no serious injuries, per CNN. The commander of the rescue helicopter, Mike Allert, tells ABC News that they were in good condition but suffering from a lack of fresh water. That's what would've killed them, per WPLG. "I was amazed they were in as good as shape as they were," Lt. Justin Dougherty tells the outlet. "I don't know how they did it." "I cannot recall a time that we saved people who were stranded for over a month on an island," Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Murray adds, per the Sun Sentinel. He says it's unclear if the trio set out as fishermen or migrants trying to reach the US. (Read more rescue stories.)