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Three boaters rescued in Gulf of Mexico after fighting off sharks

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Three boaters are rescued off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, where they were were forced to fend off sharks. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard
Three boaters are rescued off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, where they were were forced to fend off sharks. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Three boaters stranded in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend after their fishing vessel sank were rescued "just in the nick of time" as they fought off attacking sharks, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Rescuers found the boaters Sunday about 25 miles off the coast of Louisiana after a family member reported them missing when they failed to return from their fishing trip, U.S. Coast Guard-Heartland said in a press release.

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The Coast Guard said the 24-foot center console boat reportedly sank about 10 a.m. Saturday, stranding the boaters without communication for more than 24 hours. By the time rescuers got to them, two of the boaters were actively fending off sharks and had bite injuries to their hands.

"Just in the nick of time, USCG crews rescued three overdue boaters while they were fending off sharks and had spent over 24 hours in the water," the Coast Guard tweeted.

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Rescuers "arrived on scene and witnessed two of the boaters fending off sharks, along with injuries to both boaters' hands. The two boaters were pulled from the water by the boat crew before additional injuries could occur," the Coast Guard said.

A third boater was hoisted from water by a Coast Guard helicopter. The other two, recovered by boat, were transferred to the helicopter and then flown to the University Medical Center New Orleans.

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All three boaters were wearing life jackets at the time of their rescue, and one experienced signs of hypothermia. All three were reported in stable condition at the hospital.

"We searched an area roughly the size of Rhode Island and are thankful to have found these missing boaters," Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe, a sector New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator, said in a statement.

"If the family member had not notified the Coast Guard, and if these boaters were not wearing life jackets, this could've been a completely different outcome."

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