Cruise ship passenger spent 20 hours fighting off jellyfish after going overboard

A cruise ship passenger survived 20 hours in shark-infested waters, fighting off jellyfish and eating bamboo after falling overboard.

James Grimes, 28, from Alabama, US, was travelling with 18 members of his family on the Carnival Valor on a cruise off the Gulf of Mexico.

Having enjoyed a few drinks – including one celebrating winning an onboard air guitar competition – Mr Grimes went missing after going to the lavatory. 

That was the last thing Mr Grimes, who insisted he was not drunk, remembered before regaining consciousness in the water.

His survival was aided by the water temperature, which was around 21C (70F) as he swam through two smacks of jellyfish.

“When it started going and getting back towards night-time again. The water started getting colder. At that time, I thought, ‘you know, how much longer am I gonna have?’” Mr Grimes said.

“I wasn’t going to give up at any point in time just say, ‘this is it, this is the end’. It never came to that. I was determined to swim until my arms and legs could not hold my body up anymore.”

Then Mr Grimes encountered a large fish.

“It came up on me really quick. And I went under, and I could see it.

“And it wasn’t a shark, I don’t believe. But it had more (of) like a flat mouth, and it came up and bumped one of my legs, and I kicked it with the other leg. It scared me, not knowing what it was. All I could see was a fin.”

Fighting fatigue and confusion Mr Grimes encountered a large stick, which appeared to be bamboo.

“It gave some type of flavour in my mouth other than saltwater,” he added. “I was trying to stay as positive as I could from the moment I came to, and regained consciousness, I can just remember right then thinking, ‘wow, it’s a miracle that I’m not already dead’,” he recalled.


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