California dog presumed drowned is found five weeks later 70 miles off San Diego

image copyrightHayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune

A dog which fell off the side of a boat five weeks ago in the Pacific, and was presumed drowned, has been found.

Luna, a one-year-old German shepherd, was spotted on an island 70 miles off San Diego used for naval training.

The dog, owned by fisherman Nick Haworth, disappeared on 10 February as he was working about two miles away from San Clemente Island.

Nick looked for two days and US navy staff searched the island for about a week but found no sign of Luna.

"They were pulling in their [lobster] traps, and one minute Luna was there, and the next minute she was gone," said Sandy DeMunnik, spokeswoman for Naval Base Coronado.

image copyrightHayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune
image captionLuna is being looked after by owner Nick Haworth's friend Conner Lamb until Thursday night

"They looked everywhere for her. They couldn't see her. The water was dark, and she's dark.

"He (Nick Haworth) insisted that he was 90% sure that she made it to shore because she was such a strong swimmer."

Until Tuesday morning it was thought Luna had drowned.

But staff arriving for work at the island's naval auxiliary landing field spotted Luna sitting by the side of the road.


It was a strange sight because domestic animals aren't allowed on the island for environmental reasons.

"She was just sitting there wagging her tail," said Sandy DeMunnik.

A biologist examined the dog and found her a little thin but otherwise healthy.

"It looks like she was surviving on rodents and dead fish that had washed up," said Sandy DeMunnik.


The biologist called Nick Haworth, who was away from California working in the middle of a lake.

"He was overwhelmed. He was so happy and grateful and thrilled," said Sandy DeMunnik.

On Wednesday afternoon, Luna was flown to a navy base on the mainland and handed over to Nick Haworth's best friend, who will care for the dog until her owner returns on Thursday night.

image copyrightGoogle Maps

Meanwhile, Luna, was given a souvenir of her experience.

Her dog tag was lost but the Navy gave her a new one.

Along with her name, it bears a key lesson in the survival, evasion, resistance and escape (Sere) course taught on the island to navy and marine personnel.

The tag reads: "Keep the Faith".

Find us on Instagram at BBCNewsbeat and follow us on Snapchat, search for bbc_newsbeat