A man who was stranded in the ocean and thought he would die says he was saved by a friendly harbour seal who helped him get to safety.
Scott Thompson, a sea urchin diver from the US, fell from his boat into the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast and was alone after sunset when his boat got away from him.
The father and husband, wearing nothing but shorts and a T-shirt, had been swimming for several hours hoping to reach land when panic suddenly set in.
“I thought to myself, ‘Great, this is how I’m going to die. Today is the day I’m going to die,’” he told KABC-TV.
"I was just picturing my girls and my son growing up without me, and my wife, you know, not having a husband to support her."
Saved by a seal
"It was this little medium-sized harbour seal," he said in his TV interview.
"The seal would go underwater and he came up and nudged me, like a dog comes up and nudges your leg. Did it know? 'Hey, this human's in trouble. Keep going, dude.'"
Harbour seals are one of the most common marine mammals along the west and east coasts of America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
They're usually not dangerous to humans, but they can become aggressive if they come to associate humans with food.
Mr Thompson struck up a conversation with the seal and even began telling it jokes, he recalled.
It "really helped me because it took my mind off my situation".
That apparently gave him the strength he needed to swim to an oil platform, which he reached after about five hours, KABC reported.
Crew members on board rushed to his aid providing first aid and a warm shower. The Coast Guard got him to a hospital where he was treated for hypothermia.
Bizarre shark-creature found in New Zealand waters
A rare baby ghost shark has been spotted by scientists off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
The bizarre-looking deep-sea creature, also known as chimaeras, are relatives of sharks and rays, and are usually found in very deep waters, meaning they're not often seen by humans.
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