California Man Falls Off Boat, Survives 5-Hour Swim at Night With the Help of a Seal

man survived a 5-hour swim

“A little seal popped its head out of the water right next to me, and looked at me like, Dude! What are you doing out here?” explained Thompson.

Thompson recalled thinking of the seal like his dog, playful and friendly.

“Come here, little buddy!” Thompson told the seal, explaining the seal would “bob up and down looking at me, then disappear under water, pop back up, and look at me.”

The seal was a source of hope for Thompson, as he recalls, “It was like he was telling me, Hey, Dude! Get your a** in gear and get going! I was starting to run out of things to say to him, so I sang him Grateful Dead songs and told him the same corny dad jokes that I tell my kids.”

Thompson swam for 5 hours with the help of the seal. “The seal would go under water, and he came up and nudged me,” Thompson told news reporters, wondering if the seal knew he had to keep Thompson swimming toward safety.

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“Did it know, like hey, this human is in trouble; hey, keep going dude?” Thompson recalled.

Thankfully, the light from an oil rig was something to swim toward. And as the light from the rig became brighter and brighter, Thompson said he was “crying” and “shouting at the sky.” Finally, he made it.

And that’s how the man survived a 5-hour swim to oil Platform Gail around 10pm.

Once on the rig, crew members provided first aid to Thompson and transported him to the hospital for treatment for hypothermia.

Many online who heard of the story credited the man’s survival with the help of the seal to God.

Here’s what one Twitter user said in response to the story:

Even though Thompson had not been a believer of God before the traumatic incident, after the man survived a 5-hour swim with the help of a buddy seal, he has changed his mind.

“I’m a believer that there is a higher power now,” Thompson said. “I don’t know what it is, but there is a power greater than me. That was shown to me and I will never doubt that for the rest of my life.”

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Jessica Sausto
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Jessica Sausto is a longtime writer and editor of Christian resources, news, and information.