30 people and a dog on board a party boat in Biscayne Bay plunged into the water after their 45-foot private catamaran capsized on Sunday.
A group of friends from the University of Miami and Miami Dade College, as well as some workers from the Brickell area rented the boat over the weekend. They were on their way back from a sand bar in the Miami area when their vessel began leaning forward, flooding water onto the deck while pushing the boat into the water off Key Biscayne.
No deaths were reported, and no one was hurt. All 30 of the passengers, including the dog, were rescued from the bay.
Witnesses on boats nearby saw the vessel sinking, and provided help to first responders that rushed to pull people from the water.
The Coast Guard told the Miami Herald that the boat went down at about 5:30 p.m. off the coast of the downtown Miami area. The capsizing incident was just one of a few accidents related to festivities held on the water during the long weekend, Coast Guard Station Miami Beach Commanding Officer Mike Cortese reported to the Herald.
Officials are still unsure whether the boat was licensed, packed with passengers beyond capacity, or if there was even a captain on board. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is probing the accident, as it is unclear why the boat capsized near the Miami Seaquarium off the Rickenbacker Causeway in the first place. Some officials from the Conservation Commission wagered that the boat had too many people on board.
Commission Spokesperson Jorge Pino told the Herald that the vessel could have been an illegal charter, bringing people to and from Nixon Beach for $20 a person with no real captain on board.
"We don't believe he was a licensed captain at this point," Pino stated.
For the partygoers on board the boat, the event was not a dangerous one. Once they'd made their way back to land, the Herald reported that they seemed to be in high spirits, clad in bathing suits and, for one man, a green inner tube in the shape of a turtle.
"It was no big deal," one partier who preferred to remain anonymous said.