The Coast Guard rescued three boaters from the water off Louisiana on Sunday, two of whom were “fending off sharks” when rescuers arrived, officials said.
The trio were on a fishing trip, but their 24-foot boat sank around 10 a.m. Saturday and a family member reported them overdue that evening, the Coast Guard said in a statement Monday.
When crews aboard a helicopter and a 45-foot Coast Guard boat found them in the water around 2 p.m. Sunday, the boat crew “witnessed two of the boaters fending off sharks," along with injuries to both boaters' hands, the Coast Guard said.
The three were pulled from the water around 25 miles off Empire, Louisiana, which is south of New Orleans.
Rescuers used a boat and a helicopter, and the three were flown to a hospital in New Orleans, where they were stable, the Coast Guard said.
The sharks were reported to be blacktips, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Graves said.
The species, which is found year-round in the Gulf of Mexico, can grow to around 6 feet long, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Coast Guard credited the relative who reported the boaters overdue and the fact that all were wearing life jackets with helping lead to the successful rescue.
The boaters also had varying degrees of hypothermia because of how long they spent in the water, Graves said.