(NBCPHILADELPHIA) — Even for the most experienced swimmer, it’s a nightmare scenario. Stranded in the middle of the ocean with no food and the blistering sun burning down on your face. Jelly fish and sting rays circling beneath your feet. That’s what Heather Barnes had to deal with on Friday…for 16 hours.

The 20-year-old Deptford, N.J. native was visiting the islands of Cayos Cochinos on the northern shores of Honduras with other students from the New College of Florida. Barnes, an aspiring marine biologist, had been there for three weeks, snorkeling and studying. Friday marked her last day on the island.

“I couldn’t sleep,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “So I went to collect coral samples.”

Barnes went out into the ocean around 4 a.m. That’s when her trouble began.

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