Teen survived 38 days at sea by eating sharks and drinking turtle blood

A man who helped his family survive on the choppy Pacific Ocean for 38 days by eating sharks and drinking turtle blood revealed they promised never to eat each other.

Douglas Robertson was just 18 years old when he and his family were set adrift after their boat, the Lucette, was attacked by three vicious orca whales in 1971.

Within minutes, the boat had sunk 200 miles off the coast the Galapagos islands.

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Hetold LadBiblethat on the first day, everyone on the boat had promised each other to ignore the “custom of the sea” – an old sailor’s tradition where sailors drew lots to see who would be killed and eaten so that others might survive.

Instead, the group, made up of his family and a student they had picked up who was travelling the world, agreed to work together and survive for as long as possible with an aim to get back to dry land.

The group, made up of Douglas, his dad Dougal, his mum Lyn, two young twins Neil and Sandy and a backpacking student called Robin, were forced to catch, hunt and kill sea animals for 38 days while they tried getting back to land.

While the intrepid group managed to capture fresh rainwater and flying fish, dorados and even a shark to survive on, Douglas said that drinking turtle blood was the key to their survival.

“I remember saying to my dad ‘We’ve got to hunt, not catch. These animals don’t want to give their lives away, they’ll fight to the very end. We have got to catch and hunt them and kill them if we’re going to eat them’,” he said.

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Their horrific ordeal was harrowing for everyone on board, Douglas said, to the point that people considered killing themselves.

He continued: “I remember saying to my dad ‘I can't go on. I’ve had enough. I’m ready to go’. My dad was a very hard man. He said ‘Douglas, do not let your bright light go out. We need you to survive so the rest of us can survive’

“I said to him ‘dad you can’t even let me die in peace’.”

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Despite this, Douglas said that the survival of the young twins, who were just 11 when the group were set adrift, kept the group going.

“The twins kept us honest," he said. "They hadn't even started their lives. We had a reason to survive. It was to save their lives.

“My mum and dad were in their late 40s. They had had their lives, you could say. I was a young man, I had just become a man, I didn't want to lose my life. Robin was on a trip around the world, he didn’t want to lose his life.”

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After 38 days, the group were rescued by a Japanese trawler boat that was travelling to the Panama canal.

Douglas said the ordeal forced him to understand what it was like to fight tooth and nail to survive.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.


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