Electric eels, pitiless piranhas and killer catfish, River Monsters presenter Jeremy Wades probably thought he'd seen it all, but nothing could have prepared him for what he encountered while filming the new series.
In new episode, "Death Down Under," which aired last week, the crew captured on camera an extraordinary moment when they came face to face with a castaway on a deserted island. The team was investigating the death of six men in a plane crash near Australia's Gulf of Carpentaria when they spotted the fisherman crying for help. Stephen Shearman, director of the episode, told Inside Edition:
"He had said his last prayer. He was prepared to die and meet his maker."
In an incredible twist of fate, the director revealed that the team had not originally intended on filming at that end of the island, but due to choppy waters at their first-choice film location, they decided to move. He revealed:
"Together, we spotted this blue Esky, or cooler box, that was just sat on the rock."
Funnily enough, the team started joking that Tom Hanks might pop out of nowhere — referring to the 2000 movie Cast Away — but to their surprise, someone really did appear.
"This guy with no clothes was running out of the cave, waving his arms out."
It was later discovered that the man, named Tremine, had been stranded for over 60 hours after venturing off his fishing boat in search of better oysters. A roofer from Borroloola in northern Australia, Tremine had been unable to anticipate the the weather conditions and found himself trapped after taking a wrong turn. Shearman explained:
"He had tried to walk back, got beaten by the sun, and made his way back to the beach. Meanwhile, he had suffered from sunstroke and was unable to go any further. He then spent that first night on the beach, and the next morning he tried again, but the sun had gotten to be too much for him, and at this point, he is now trapped.
Everything was fine, and within two to three hours, everything wasn't really fine at all. In his own words, he was 'preparing to die.'"
The human body can only survive for up to 72 hours without water, meaning Tremine had a mere 12-hour window left to live when he was found by the crew. Their guide, Ashley, was also from Booraloola, and in a startling coincidence actually recognized the man emerging from the cave as his good friend. Shearman continued:
"He was used to him going away and not getting in touch. It was quite a shock when we discovered this semi-naked guy coming out of the cave, and it was his friend. He was completely dumbfounded."
With no wife or children, nobody on the mainland had suspected Tremine had gone missing, but luckily fate was on his side and his plight saw a miraculous turn around. As soon as the crew found him, he was hauled aboard the boat and given water and hydration pills, which he threw straight up. Naturally, he was a little embarrassed by the whole ordeal. Shearman went on to say:
"His body wasn't ready for that at all. His condition was quite serious. I don't know if you've met Australian men, but they're very proud. The idea that he'd gotten lost was mortifying for him. Once he got rehydrated, his strength gained straight back. His recovery was quick."
After staying overnight in the crew's lodge, Tremine was already fit enough to return home and River Monsters made sure to touch base with him a few months later. In a surprising revelation, he told the team he had returned to an old habit as part of his new perspective on life. Shearman laughed as he said:
"Apart from a bruised pride, he was back to normal. He's given up smoking, but he's promised God he's going to start smoking again. If he had a lighter, he'd be able to cook, and he'd have a fire."
That's certainly one interesting way of looking at it! You can watch the moment Tremine was rescued in the clip from the show below.
Shearman concluded by saying:
"I've made a lot of shows involving survival, but to see it first hand and to see the real shocking powers of what three days without water can do was really sobering."
You can see what other surprises River Monsters has in store this season by tuning in to Animal Planet on Thursdays at 10pm.