Australia

Fisherman survives six-hour ordeal in remote waters off Australia

Fisherman sit and fish from the wharf of a Western Australian harbour Image copyright Getty Images

A lone fisherman survived by treading water for six hours after falling into the sea while fishing for marlin off Western Australia.

Ross Chapman was bringing a large fish into his five-metre boat when his GoPro camera slipped.

He fell overboard while trying to rescue it, according to local news site WAtoday.

Mr Chapman had hooked the marlin about 30 nautical miles (55km) off the remote North West Cape on Tuesday.

Earlier reports suggesting that he was pulled into the water by the fish were later denied.

Another fisherman spotted the man's empty boat travelling at speed and alerted authorities.

The angler, believed to be in his 20s, was plucked from the water after several boats joined the search.

Rescuers said the man was incredibly lucky to survive after being found in "the middle of nowhere".

"The boating community that was out there did a very good job at rallying around and getting a search under way as fast as possible," Rusty Ellis, commander of the Exmouth Volunteers Marine Rescue Group, told the BBC.

"I think everybody is extremely relieved that he was found at all. It could have quite easily been a disastrous situation."

The fisherman, originally from New Zealand, was treated at Exmouth Hospital for hypothermia and shock.

Image copyright Twitter / Exmouth Police
Image caption Exmouth Police thanked those who helped with the rescue on Twitter

Marlin are among the largest fish in the world, and the females - which are bigger - can weigh over 900kg (140 stone). Their average size is between 91 to 181kg (14 to 28 stone). They can grow to up to 4.2m (14ft) in length.

A friend and fellow angler, Jeni Gates, said Mr Chapman had snared a sizeable fish when the accident occurred.

"He just caught a marlin which was about 250 kilos, he estimated," she told Australia's ABC News.

"He tagged the fish, he released it, and he had his GoPro camera sitting on the transom on the back of the boat.

"Basically as he went in from releasing the fish, he knocked [the camera] over I think and it went into the water, and he went to grab it but he accidently fell in.

"And of course the boat was in gear and it kept going, and he just couldn't keep up with it."

Rescuer Mr Ellis said the incident was a reminder about the dangers of fishing alone.

In the heat of an Australian summer, serious dehydration is a risk for anyone forced to spend hours without drinking water, he said.

"People in the past have survived up to 36 hours - but their body mass and things were substantially different. If he hadn't been found when he was, that would have meant him spending the night in the water... and the scenarios aren't anything to be cheerful about.

"There's jelly fish, sharks, orcas - he was a long, long way out to sea."

CORRECTION:An earlier version of this story wrongly said that the fisherman was pulled into the sea by a marlin.

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