WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO - APRIL 10, 2018: View from infinity pool with beach on Cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse docked at port Willemstad.

Man fought sea creature and ate floating bamboo after falling off cruise ship

A man who fell overboard from a cruise ship says he “fought a sea creature and ate floating bamboo to survive” his 20-hour ordeal in the shark-infested Gulf of Mexico, says he wasn’t drunk and has no idea how he fell into the sea.

Man has no idea how he fell overboard from cruise ship

A man fell overboard off a Carnival cruise ship on its way from New Orleans to Cozumel through the Gulf of Mexico the night before Thanksgiving and spent 20 hours in the water before being rescued.

James Michael Grimes, a 28-year-old outdoorsman, claims he has no idea how he fell off the Carnival Valor cruise ship and denies being drunk, the Daily Mail reported.

Grimes was on a five-day trip with 18 members of his family when his sister reported him missing nearly 12 hours after he first vanished.

James was last seen with his sister at a restaurant, where he had just won an air guitar contest. She says he got up to go to the bathroom before vanishing.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Grimes denied being drunk or having “tons of drinks” and said he “couldn’t really say” how many he consumed.

James told GMA he did not know how he fell into the water but believes the fall knocked him unconscious. James says he was alone in solid darkness, with only light from the stars and the moon.

Many people see the man’s story as fishy

Although James Grimes says he has “no idea” how he ended up in the water and denies being drunk, many people see his explanation as fishy.

According to a statement from the Coast Guard given to ABC news: “Cruise ships have safety barriers in all public areas that are regulated by U.S. Coast Guard standards that prevent a guest from falling off. Guests should never ever climb up on the rails. The only way to go overboard is to purposefully climb up and over the safety barriers.”

Fought off a sea creature and ate floating bamboo to survive

James told GMA he had to fight off a creature with a fin, which he initially thought was a shark. He also battled jellyfish.

“I thought it was a shark,” Grimes said. “I mean, I was swimming in one direction and looked around. I seen it out the corner of my eye and it came up on me really quick and went under and I could see it and it wasn’t a shark.”

“But it had more like a flat mouth and came up and bumped one of my legs and I kicked it with the other leg,” Grimes continued. “It scared me not knowing what it was or at the time how big it was. All I could see was a fin.”

The outdoorsman also said he survived by eating floating bamboo.

“A stick come floating by,” James recalled. “Looked like bamboo so I started eating on it and it actually – I won’t say it tasted good but it gave some type of flavor in my mouth other than salt water.”

Rescued by Coast Guard after 20 hours in the water

Around 2:30 PM on November 24, the Carnival Valor cruise ship altered its route to Cozumel and turned back toward the United States to look for James Grimes. The Coast Guard was also notified of the missing passenger. Roughly 6 hours later, around 8:25 PM, the US Coast Guard rescued Grimes from the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana.

The Coast Guard released dramatic footage of the rescue, which showed Grimes struggling to fight against the ocean swells to reach safety.

“Mr. Grimes had nothing left,” recalls US Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician Richard Hoefle, who arrived with his four-man crew to rescue Grimes. Hoefle said the man was “at his limit. He had no energy. He had nothing left to give. My best guess is that he had between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely.”

Man was determined to survive

“The next thing I know I regained consciousness. I was in the water with no boat in sight,” Grimes said. “I felt like I was given a chance right then… you’re alive for a reason… that fall could’ve killed me, but I felt like from that moment on, I was trying to stay positive.”

“And, you know when you’re here, you’re still alive for a reason,” James continued. “So, all you got to do now is swim and survive. I was hoping… they will start looking for me… they will find me eventually.”

“My worst fear is drowning and that was something I did not want to have to face,” Grimes added. “I wanted to see my family and I was dead set on making it out of there, you know. I was never accepting that this is it. This is going to be the end of my life.”