Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a Mexican castaway, claims to have survived for 13 months lost at sea while the tides took him from Mexico to the Marshall Islands.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga Ate Raw Fish And Turtles To Survive

Alvarenga, 37, was a fisherman in Mexico who says he went out to go shark fishing in December of 2012 and a storm pushed his boat out to sea and caused him to get lost. Alvarenga told officials he survived by eating raw fish and drinking bird blood. Also with him for the shark fishing trip was a young teenage boy named Ezekiel who reportedly died after about a month lost at sea.

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Alvarenga survived for 13 months in his 23-foot fiber glass boat, eventually swimming onto the shore on Ebon, Marshall Islands, when he got close enough. He was found on Thursday, Jan. 30.

U.S. ambassador Thomas Ambruster reportedly witnessed a meeting between Alvarenga and other authorities in Marshall Islands and revealed that authorites had made contact with the Mexican embassy in the Philippines and a Mexican official was being sent to help interview Alvarenga and get a handle on the situation. The situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Alvarenga appears to be a citizen of El Salvador, where he was born, but had lived in Mexico for 15 years. Alvarenga also has family in the U.S. and it is unclear where he will go once he leaves Marshall Islands.

Castaway Is Found In Relatively Good Health

Alvarenga is said to have been extremely weak and disoriented when he was rescued on Thursday. He suffers from knee pain and cannot stand up on his own.

“He was in really bad shape in terms of strength and mental health,” said Ebon Atoll, a Norwegian anthropology student who was part of the rescue team.

Atoll also told BBC that Alvarenga’s boat was in bad shape when he arrived and was littered with turtle shells and other sea life:

“And when we got there we first found his boat, which was… grown over with shells and other sea animals. It had a live baby bird, a dead turtle, some turtle shells, and fish leftovers inside.”

Alvarenga has otherwise been given a clean bill of health and has expressed his desire to return to Mexico.

“I feel bad. I am so far away. I don’t know where I am or what happened,” Alvarenga said upon his rescue.

Much of the information has been subject to change as officials on the island are having trouble communicating with Alvarenga, who only speaks Spanish and is still recovering from his ordeal. It had been originally believed that Alvarenga was lost at sea for 16 months instead of the now reported 13, and whether or not he truly survived off bird blood, turtles and raw fish is unknown as Alvarenga is reportedly communicating with authorities mostly through pictures.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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