Man trapped in air pocket in sunken boat rescued after 3 days

A Nigerian crew member of a tug boat that sank was rescued three days later by a diver conducting a body recovery dive. He survived in an air pocket inside the boat which was 30m (100ft) below the surface.

I’ve been that diver, but it was mere moments after the boat in question sank. I was hoping to find a situation like this.

But if I was grabbed by a survivor 3 days after the boat sinking I would have made a big mess in my wetsuit! :eek:

I would imagine that a scuba mouthpiece makes screaming awkward as well.

How much air would there have to be for someone to survive 3 days?

I wondered why my spam folder was empty these past few days.

That’s a great story, though I agree that the recovery diver was probably startled.

I’m really surprised hypothermia wasn’t an issue (or at least it wasn’t mentioned in the article). What’s the water temperature at 30m? Even if he was out of the water, I assume that he was still pretty wet.

I thought it was kinda funny that they noted he had plenty of free floating sodas to drink.


That’s very variable. But I’d be surprised if it’s above body temperature.

It’s not entirely clear exactly where the boat went down, but in tropical waters it is entirely feasible to have the water temperature at 100ft be the same as at the surface. Around here it is 86 F (30C) or so.

I dive in the tropics (Malaysia), and at 100 ft (30m?) It’s about 24C or so. Noticeably colder, but not freezing. I wouldn’t want to be down there for too long without a wetsuit though…

This sea surface temperature map from NOAA has a scale that maxes out at 32.6C. That’s around 90F, which is noticeably less than body temperature. I don’t know if there are other circumstances that would result in warmer surface (or 30m down) water.

I can answer no to that from personal experience, actually.

1.5 x 3 metres doesn’t give the volume of the air bubble. but unless the missing dimension was pretty big it’s hard to see how he lasted 3 days without using all the oxygen.

Also interested to note the point about how his body was pressurized and decompress him over 2 days, nice comparison between popping a shaken coke can if they hadn’t.

And I’m betting that diver who got grabbed threw that wetsuit out once he got back on board the boat.:smiley:

Hmm, would it be better to exhale back into the bubble, or outside?

According to this page:

The build up of co2 kills you before you’ve depleted the oxygen. So yeah breathing out through a tube going outside the bubble will prolong your life. But anyway sea water absorbs co2 right ? Would the co2 from expiration get absorbed fast enough by the water facing the bubble without you having to breathe out through the bubble ?

I cannot “fathom” that poor diver’s reaction.

I worked topwater with a recovery team years ago. One of my duties was to observe the bubble trail from our diver on the surface of the water. If the trail never moved then it meant the diver may be snagged and we would send down a second diver to assist. (The first diver knew to keep his cool because of that rule)

We could always tell when a diver found the body. The bubbles would become larger and more frequent. Since most of the time our diver was feeling his way around the lake bed or river bed he would only be able to tell if he found the body if he was touching it. The excitement made him take a few deep quick breaths.

One time the bubbles came up huge and voluminous. Seems our diver discovered the body when he reached into the victims mouth.

There was an around the world sailboat race a few years ago where one participant capsized in the middle of the south pacific.

He managed to survive for a few days on the air that was trapped in the cabin below deck. Amazingly he was found.

But how did he grab the diver if he was locked in? Through a window?

Depends on the surface area between the air bubble and the water. The math is beyond me, though.