Lost at Sea, a Man Met his Long-Lost Uncle’s Family on an Island

by Taruna Deshmukh3 weeks ago
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Picture Lost at Sea, a Man Met his Long-Lost Uncle’s Family on an Island

The sea is a terrible place to get lost in. With no landmass in proximity and surrounded by undrinkable water full of many deadly creatures, only the lucky ones make it to the shore after losing their way at sea. Uein Buranibwe and Temaei Tontaake, fishermen from Kiribati (an island country in the central Pacific Ocean), are two such lucky individuals who washed ashore on an island after being lost at sea for 33 days! What’s even more fascinating is that Temaei Tontaake made an enthralling discovery about his long-lost uncle on the island. The fisherman found his lost uncle was not dead as his family presumed.

Fisherman found his lost uncle also met a similar fate

Fisherman found his lost uncle
Uein Buranibwe(left) and Temaei Tontaake(right). Image credit: AFP/Giff Johnson via

Little did Uein Buranibwe and Temaei Tontaake know where their fate would be taking them when they were on their way home from a fishing trip in a nearby atoll in 2011. The duo lost their way on a 30-mile journey home and wandered in the wilderness of the Pacific Ocean for the next 33 days before finally washing ashore at Namdrik atoll of Marshall Island.

Their GPS went out of batteries, and they were directionless drifting in the Pacific. They mainly survived on the tuna they could catch during these 33 days, but they often had to go without eating for days. As for the water, there was barely any rain, and they had no option but to drink the salt water from the ocean.

Map of Marshall Islands
Map of Marshall Islands

The duo finally reached Namdrik on the 33rd day after wandering at sea for about 350 miles. However, when they reached Namdrik, inhabited by about 600 people, no one but only one woman could understand their language. It was shocking for Temaei Tontaake to find out that the woman was the descendant of his uncle Bairo.

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Fisherman found his lost uncle Bairo, just like himslef, also lost his way at sea in the 1950s and ended up washing ashore on Namdrik. As he could not make it back home, his family presumed him dead. Temaei could never have imagined his fate would so closely resemble that of his uncle and that he would get to meet the relatives he never knew even existed.

Why did the fisherman’s lost uncle never try to contact his real family?

Namorik Atoll
Namorik Atoll, Main Island Namorik. Image credit: NASA/Wikimedia

When Bairo, Temaei’s uncle, wound up on Namdrik in the 1950s, there was no way for him to communicate with his real family in Kiribati or to travel back to his home island. Moreover, when Bairo could not make it home for days, his family presumed him dead.

The best choice for him was to make the most out of the situation and embrace what fate had brought him. So, Bairo married a local woman, had children with her, and settled into the community. However, what remains a mystery is how Bairo managed to settle into a community without knowing their language.

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Nonetheless, Bairo had long passed away before this fishermen duo arrived at Namdrik. The men waited about three weeks for the operational plane of the Marshall Islands to get repaired to fly back to their home.

Some people made it to the shores after being lost at sea for several months!

While the story of Uein and Temaei seems exhilarating, there are people who have made it to the shores after being lost at sea not for days but for months! An example is Salvador Alvarenga.

Alvarenga was lost at sea for 438 days, i.e., more than 14 months! He left the coast of Mexico to fish with his crewmate Ezequiel Córdoba in November 2012. A massive storm hit his boat at sea, and everything went south from there onwards. They survived on rainwater, turtles, and birds.

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Unfortunately, Córdoba did not make it out alive and died after two months at sea. That left Alvarenga traumatized. He traveled with his crewmate’s corpse for days. Hallucinating, Alvarenga even began talking to the dead body. After six days, he finally realized that he had been talking to a corpse for all these days. He kept on drifting at sea for 14 months only to finally wash ashore 6,700 miles away at the Ebon Atoll of the Marshall Islands.

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Picture Lost at Sea, a Man Met his Long-Lost Uncle’s Family on an Island
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