Rats, coconuts and conch: That’s what 3 Cubans ate to survive 33 days on remote island off Florida, Coast Guard says

Cheryl McCloud
| Treasure Coast Newspapers


Three people stranded for 33 days on an island south of Florida survived by eating rats, coconuts and conch, according to the Coast Guard.

A Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry spotted three people waving a makeshift flag while on routine patrol Tuesday, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Nicole Groll. Two men and one woman, all Cuban nationals, had been stranded on Anguilla Cay, Bahamas, a tiny speck of land located about 155 miles southeast of Key West.

“They told our pilot their boat had capsized and they swam to the island,” Groll said.  

The Coast Guard dropped food, water and a radio as a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 helicopter crew responded to the scene. They had survived by eating rats, coconuts and conch, officials said.

The helicopter crew hoisted the two men and one woman and transferred them to Lower Keys Medical Center with no reported injuries.

“Considering their situation, they were in good condition,” Groll said.

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“This was a very complex operation involving asset and crews from different units, but thanks to good communication and coordination between command centers and pilots, we were able to safely get everyone to a medical facility before the situation could worsen, ” said Sean Connett, command duty officer at Coast Guard Seventh District.

The three were later transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Pompano Beach.

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