Those on the vessel heard an emergency call at around 9 p.m. from the U.S Coast Guard about three boaters in the water two miles away from where their craft was. The Coast Guard managed to rescue two men but a third was still missing in the water.
Seven crew members and six graduate students- Chelsea Bonnain, Travis Mellet and Salvatore Caprara (visiting graduate from Italy) from USF; Brent Summers and Isaiah Rivera from Florida State University; and Zuzanna Abdala from Old Dominion University, went in search of the boater.
After about an hour search the crew and students spotted the third boater who was very dehydrated.
"Trying to pick out a human head in the dark night, dark water- it's very, very difficult," Brendan 'Boomer' Baumeister, captain of the Weatherbird II, said.
"As soon as we saw him, everybody was just focused on getting him onboard," Baumeister added. "The Coast Guard was calling, we didn't even have time to get on the radio. Our first, number one priority was getting him on board because we didn't know if he had minutes or seconds before he was going to slip under, so we were just very, very focused."
The Florida Institute of Oceanography is a research and education institute hosted at the USF College of Marine Science.