A Kiribati fisherman and father of six who spent about three and a half months adrift at sea in a wooden boat has credited a shark with saving his life, AFP reports.
Toakai Teitoi drifted in the central Pacific for 15 weeks before he was rescued by a Marshall Islands fishing vessel last week. The fisherman has since claimed that a 6-and-a-half foot shark is the hero that led him to safety.
According to AFP, Teitoi said he had woken up on the afternoon of Sept. 11 to "see the shark circling the boat and bumping the hull."
"He was guiding me to a fishing boat. I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me," Teitoi said. Having captured "[Teitoi's] attention," the shark reportedly then swam away, AFP adds.
According to Australia's Herald Sun, Teitoi's troubles began in the Kiribati capital of Tarawa in late May, where the fisherman was attending a ceremony during which he was sworn in as a policeman.
After the ceremony, Teitoi and his 52-year-old brother-in-law set off on what was supposed to be a 2-hour sea journey back to their home island of Maiana. However, after the pair fell asleep on the boat, they woke to find that they had drifted out of sight of land and soon ran out of fuel.
"We had food, but the problem was we had nothing to drink," Teitoi explained, according to the Sun.
Teitoi managed to survive by subsisting on fish and rainwater, the Bangkok Post reports. His brother-in-law's health failed, however, and he died of dehydration on July 4. "I left him there overnight and slept next to him like at a funeral," Teitoi told AFP.
Teitoi says his seafaring days are now behind him. "I'll never go by boat again. I'm taking a plane," he said.