Underwatertimes.com News Service - September 6, 2006 19:40 EST

A scuba diver who was hit by a boat and knocked unconscious survived 56 hours in the water, apparently being watched over by dolphins.

Matthew Harvey went diving alone in the frigid waters of Fermain Bay, off the Channel Islands (between England and France) on Saturday morning, and when he failed to return home, his family reported him missing. An air and sea search was conducted but was called off on Sunday evening.

Then, after more than 50 hours, Harvey was spotted 200 yards from shore by the crew of a passing yacht. Rescuers Anne and Steve Westwood said Harvey was surrounded by at least 150 dolphins when they found him.

"We saw this black object and it looked a bit like a sunfish that appeared to be some kind of wave," Steve Westwood said. "And so we just went over to take a look and realized it was a diver -- and, pretty obviously, an injured diver, but still alive."

Mark Simmonds, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said the dolphin story didn't sound fishy to him.

"Its entirely possible that they did understand he was in trouble, and it's quite possible they helped him," Simmonds told NBC.

"Certainly the dolphins -- as intelligent air breathing mammals themselves -- are well known to help other wounded or dying members of their own schools get to the surface. They seem able to extend this understanding to our own situation," said Simmonds.