Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Dog Lost At Sea Survives On Remote Island By Drinking El Niño Rain Puddles

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

A dog that fell overboard from a fishing boat was found alive five weeks later on an island 80 miles off the coast of San Diego.

Luna, an 18-month old German shepherd/husky mix, went missing on February 10 while on a fishing trip with her owner Nick Haworth off the coast of San Clemente Island, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. At some point in the early hours of the morning, the dog fell into the dark waters around the 45-foot boat. Haworth notified Navy personnel on the nearby island—the southernmost of the Channel Islands and used by the Navy for training—and searched the waters for Luna for about two days.

"He told us Luna was a very powerful swimmer and that he was 90 percent sure she'd head for shore," Sandy DeMunnik, public affairs officer for the US Navy's Naval Base Coronado, told ABC. "So our staff searched the island, but with no luck. He stayed in the area for two more days to look for her, and after a week, we considered her lost at sea and presumed dead."

But then on Tuesday morning, staff arriving for work to the island's Naval Auxiliary Landing Field spotted the dog.

Support for LAist comes from

"They saw Luna just sitting on the side of the road wagging her tail," DeMunnik said. "Keep in mind, there are no domesticated animals on the island, so it was a stunning sight."

A biologist on the island examined Luna and found her to be a bit thin, but otherwise healthy. After swimming roughly two miles to shore, the dog had somehow been surviving on puddles left behind from El Niño rains—as there is no standing fresh water on the island—and by eating whatever she could find. "It looks like she was surviving on rodents and dead fish that had washed up," DeMunnik told the OC Register.

The biologist notified Haworth—who was working out of state at the time—that they had found Luna. "He was overwhelmed. He was so happy and grateful and thrilled," DeMunnik said.

Luna was then flown to Naval base in San Diego where she was finally reunited with Haworth on Wednesday afternoon.