Lost Fisherman Washes Ashore on the Marshall Islands

Wilson?!  Wilson?!  Well, not quite, but a real life sea story fit for Hollywood unfolded on the Marshall Islands earlier this week.

 Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a thirty-seven year old fisherman from El Salvador, washed ashore on the Marshall Islands claiming he was lost at sea for nearly 13 months.

 According to Alvarenga, he left the Mexican Pacific coast in December 2012 for a day of shark fishing on his 22-foot fiber glass boat. He was accompanied by a teenage boy he knew only as Ezekiel.

 After a few hours of shark fishing, a storm blew the fishermen off course and the two were quickly adrift and lost on the Pacific Ocean.

 Alvarenga told officials on the Marshall Islands that he survived by eating small fish that swam alongside his boat. He also ate birds and drank the birds’ blood for hydration.

 In addition to fish and birds, Alvarenga said he ate turtles.

 After about a month at sea, Ezekiel perished, which caused Alvarenga to contemplate suicide for a few days. However, Alvarenga said his strong religious faith persuaded him not to take his own life.

Fortunately he didn’t because once Alvarenga saw Ebon, a coral atoll that is the southernmost landmass of the Marshall Islands, he swam ashore and was discovered by locals.

 Alvarenga went through a series of medical tests that showed his vitals appeared to be in good shape. His only health concern was his blood pressure, which was abnormally low. Likewise, Alvarenga complained of joint pain and had slight difficulty walking. He had long hair and a bushy beard, but for the most part seemed to be in good health.

 The survivor told officials that he had no family in Mexico but does have family in his native country of El Salvador and has brothers living in the United States.

 Alvarenga had no identification on him and some details of his story seemed a little sketchy, particularly his exact departure location from Mexico.

The acting secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands, Gee Bing, claimed to be a little dubious of the fisherman’s story. He said that sea survivors that have washed ashore on the Marshall Islands in the past have appeared much more emaciated than Alvarenga.

 Nevertheless, Bing said it’s an incredible survival story and more details will surface once they get in contact with officials from where Alvarenga is from.

 Scientifically speaking, oceanographers have come out and claimed there is a western current in the Pacific Ocean that could’ve carried Alvarenga’s boat to the Marshall Islands. However, with those currents the journey would’ve taken up to 18 months to complete. Although, once wind speed and currents are factored in, 13 months is believable.

 There is doubt over Alvarenga’s story because of his reasonably healthy physical state. Doubters also question why the fisherman didn’t suffer from scurvy or have any severe sun damage to his skin.

Also, many are wondering what exactly happened to Alvarenga’s teenage sea-companion, Ezekiel.

 Further investigation will surely wash up more details, but if Alvarenga’s story stands to be true, one can bet Hollywood will be calling.

 Maybe this time Wilson won’t get left behind.


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