Three teens survived 50 days adrift in the Pacific in a small dinghy, by sharing a single raw seagull, fish, and drinking small amounts of rainwater.
Rescuers had given up hope of finding Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, when they were found dehydrated, sunburnt and very hungry 1300km from where they had set off.
The boys, who disappeared from a small coral atoll in Tokelau, 500km north of Samoa, on October 5 were spotted by the crew of a fishing boat north east of Fiji.
The captain of the tuna fishing vessel, Tai Fredricsen, said: “It’s an absolute miracle they were seen”.
“They were very badly sunburnt. They were in the open during the day up in the tropics there. But really they just needed basic first aid.”
He described how the lads started waving desperately as they got to within sight of their small craft.
They had been swept out to sea after trying to row 60 miles between two small islands.
A memorial service was held for them last month after an extensive air search failed to find them.
When they did not arrive at their destination New Zealand’s Co-ordination Rescue Centre despatched two Royal New Zealand Air Force planes, and two ships from Samoa were also launched to join in the search.
The teens had been able to drink water from pools left after rainstorms but their desperate thirst had forced them to drink seawater in the days running up to their rescue.
They were initially placed on a drip to rehydrate them, but were soon taking sips of water and asking for food.
“The boys are ecstatic to be rescued and they’re now in the cabin listening to music and watching cartoons,” Fredricsen said.