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The Latest on missing boys: Pushing limits of survival

Former NFL great and Tequesta, Fla. resident Joe Namath, front left, walks the beach at Coral Cove Park in Jupiter, Fla., searching for possible clues washed up, Monday, July 27, 2015 with the family of one of two teenage fishermen who went missing three days earlier after setting out for the Bahamas. The family is asking for help along the shore for locating any items that might have drifted when the teen's boat capsized. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — The latest on the search for the two Florida teens who went missing while on a fishing trip off Florida’s Atlantic coast:

7 p.m.

Though the odds could be against the survival of two Florida teenagers lost at sea, experts say it’s still possible.

Laurence Gonzales, the author of “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why,” says the very vague rule of thumb is humans can stay alive three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food, but examples of defying that abound.

Gonzales said the longest someone has been known to survive in the open ocean without water was about five days, but because it’s not known whether the boys had any supplies, are wearing life jackets or might be clinging to or floating on something, they could still be alive.

“People will constantly surprise you,” he said. “You’ll think, ‘Surely this guy is dead.’ And you’ll go out and there he will be alive.”

Dr. Claude Piantadosi, a Duke University medical professor who authored “The Biology of Human Survival: Life and Death in Extreme Environments,” agreed, saying the obstacles were steep but the teens could still be alive.

“Even though the odds are against them, I certainly wouldn’t call off the search,” he said.

Piantadosi sees dehydration as the biggest threat to the teens and says, without water, they are reaching the edge of survivability.

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11:35 a.m.

The Coast Guard says it’s still optimistic two teenage fishermen missing at sea can be found alive.

Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss says Tuesday that three Coast Guard cutters, a Navy ship and an airplane are still searching from the waters off Daytona Beach, Florida, north through Savannah, Georgia, and that they have no immediate plans to stop.

Though he conceded the probability of finding someone alive decreases as time passes, he notes others have survived longer at sea.

“We know it can happen and we’re hoping it happens again,” he says.

He says the Coast Guard is constantly looking at a mix of factors to determine whether the search should continue.

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10:30 a.m.

The stepfather of one of the Florida boys lost at sea says the teens were not supposed to be on the ocean.

Nick Korniloff says his 14-year-old stepson Perry Cohen and the boy’s friend Austin Stephanos were supposed to remain on the Loxahatchee River and the Intracoastal Waterway during their fishing outing Friday. He says he doesn’t believe the boys were heading to the Bahamas, as some have speculated, but that they obviously ended up in the deep waters they were supposed to steer clear of.

Still, Korniloff says “if there are any two 14-year-old boys out there qualified, it’s Perry and Austin.”

The stepfather says private planes are surveying the waters off Florida and Georgia outside the area the Coast Guard is searching. He’s also encouraging people to head to their beaches to look for any clues that might wash ashore.

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7:55 a.m.

The mothers of the two boys who went missing while fishing off Florida’s coastline say they believe their sons have the knowledge and skills needed to survive in the water.

Speaking Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show, Pamela Cohen says she believes her son, Perry Cohen and his friend Austin Stephanos are “doing everything they can to stay afloat.” The 14-year-olds have been missing since Friday when they took a 19-foot boat into the Atlantic to fish.

Carly Black said her son Austin has been around the water since he was born. Both said their sons learned to swim before they could walk.

Responding to criticism that the teens were too young to operate a boat alone, Pamela Cohen said the boys had been around boats their entire lives and life on the water is second nature to them. She compared it to kids who live on a farm and drive tractors or children who live in the mountains and learn to hunt at a young age.

The mothers said they don’t believe their boys were heading to the Bahamas, as has been widely reported. Instead, they believe they were fishing offshore when the weather turned bad and “something went amiss.”

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7:15 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard has expanded its search for two 14-year-old Florida boys who went missing while on a fishing expedition.

Petty Officer Anthony Soto said Tuesday that crews are searching in the Atlantic Ocean as far north as Savannah, Georgia, and as far south as Cape Canaveral, Florida, for Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos.

The pair was reported missing from Jupiter, Florida, on Friday afternoon. They were last seen purchasing $110 worth of gas for their 19-foot boat and were believed to be heading toward the Bahamas. Their capsized boat was found Sunday morning off the coast of Ponce Inlet, more than 180 miles north of where they started their journey.

The search has continued day and night.

Soto said three Coast Guard cutters and a C-130 Hercules airplane searched throughout Monday night for the boys.

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