TODAY   |  July 23, 2013

Student survives 16 hours adrift in ocean

Aspiring marine biologist Heather Barnes, 20, was snorkeling off Honduras when she was carried away by a current. It pushed her out to sea, where she drifted for 16 hours before the current carried her back. NBC’s Tamron Hall reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> a college student that studies ocean life has had enough of the water at least for now and who could blame her.

>> there were several times that i was like just okay with the fact that i wasn't going to make it.

>> new jersey college student heather barnes was snorkeling looking for corral samples off the coast of honduras when he legs started to cramp up.

>> i didn't think it was a big deal at that point.

>> but it was. distracted by the pain she didn't realize the current pushed her farther out to sea and deeper into trouble.

>> i didn't think there was anyway i could swim back.

>> heather drifted for 16 hours treading water . the sun burning her skin, painful jelly fish stings on her face and body but heather says she tried not to think about it.

>> so i thought about food a lot.

>> reporter: finally the same current that pulled hethder out pushed her back to the island. far from where she started but amazingly near people that helped her and brought her back to her hotel.

>> i'm still going to study marine biology . i'm not going to go to the beach this week probably. but yeah, i wouldn't give it up like that.