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Fisherman Swims 15 Hours After Whale Throws Him Overboard, Grateful to be Alive

Sadly, his two friends and fellow fishermen didn't make it back.

Three men out on a fishing trip hit a whale with their boat, throwing them all overboard. Miles from shore, the men were forced to swim and, sadly, only one made it back.

The three friends and fishermen, Flavio Barceló, Eriberto Holguin (Silo) Rivera, and Jhon Palma Lopez, set off from the port of San Mateo in Ecuador on the night of July 4 for fishing in Corvina, according to the local paper El Diario.

Barceló told local media outlet Extra that Rivera warned him to be on the lookout for whales and other boats. By the time they saw the obstacle int he water, it was too late.

Around 11 p.m., their boat crashed into a whale. All three were thrown into the water.

Worst yet: The boat motored on without them. The men attempted to swim for the shore of Manta, hoping to find help along the way.

"At four in the morning, Jhon Palma drowned. He could not resist," Carmen Rivera, a relative of Eriberto Rivera, told Extra. "He [Barceló] said that they were bringing the body, but at about 8:00 on Wednesday, Eriberto could no longer resist."

On July 5 at 4 p.m., Barcelo made it to the harbor in San Lorenzo parish, where doctors examined him. They found phlegm and water in his lungs.

He said, "Thank God for giving me another life, I was born again."

Rivera and Palma's families asked the Ecuadorian navy for assistance finding the men's bodies.

Authorities are unsure what type of whale the men hit, but they likely ran into a humpback whale.

According to Ecuatraveling, the whales migrate between June and September from Antarctica to Ecuador. While there, the whales mate, birth their young and become quite the tourist attraction. With up to 3,000 whales off the coast, collisions between boats and whales do happen. In 2015, one person died off the coast of Baja California, during the whale migration, and two others perished in Ecuador in 2017.

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