HILO — Two people were rescued from Hawaii waters after spending a night drifting in the ocean surrounded by sharks.
The two people were fishing on Thursday off the Big Island’s northeast coast when a large, sudden wave hit and washed one of them into the water, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .
The other person was washed into the water after trying to help, Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief Darwin Okinaka said.
The two people then spent the night drifting in the ocean, Okinaka said.
Authorities were notified Friday morning of the missing anglers following attempts by family members to find them. Nine units including two helicopters were sent to the scene.
They were spotted Friday morning about 500 yards (457 meters) offshore by helicopter tour pilots.
“In the process of getting our units out there, we got a call from Paradise Helicopters, who said they saw two people out floating in the water, with sharks surrounding them — three tiger sharks is what they said — a half-mile to a mile offshore in the general area,” Okinaka said. “They provided a great service to keep eyes on the victims in the water until our units came on scene. I believe they were doing some flight maneuvers to keep the sharks away, to keep them at bay.”
Okinaka said the men were clinging onto a branch to stay afloat. He said one county helicopter used aerial maneuvers to scare the sharks while the other rescued the people with a net.
The anglers told authorities they were in the water since Thursday afternoon. They suffered minor injuries.