Real Life Castaway: Man Found After 16 Months At Sea

Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

Tarra Matthews
Senior Manager

In something seemingly out of a Hollywood blockbuster, a Mexican man washed up 8,000 miles from home on the shores of Ebon, Marshall Islands on Thursday, having allegedly been adrift at sea for 16 months.

The man, who identified himself to researchers on the island as Jose Ivan, had set sail with a companion from Mexico in September 2012 to go shark fishing in El Salvador. Unfortunately, the man’s companion died at sea several months ago.

The boat did not appear to have any fishing gear on board, but Ivan explained that he survived by catching and eating turtles, birds and fish by hand and drinking turtle blood when rain wasn’t available. According to The Guardian, there was a turtle on board the boat when it washed up in Ebon.

He underwent a health check, and although his blood pressure was low, Ivan was not found to have any severe illnesses or ailments. Speaking to The Guardian, Norwegian research student Ola Fjeldstad, who is currently on the island, said, “We’ve been giving him a lot of water, and he’s gaining strength.”

Since Ebon is so remote, there is only one phone line and no Internet access. The government are debating whether to send a boat to take Ivan to Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, because their only plane is currently being repaired.

Once in the capital, it is hoped that more information can be gathered from Jose Ivan. As he only speaks Spanish, there has been a language barrier between him and the locals. During his time in Ebon, Ivan communicated through drawings with Mayor Ione deBrum.

It’s certainly an incredible story, and we wish Jose Ivan all the best with his recovery, and hope that he can go home to Mexico as soon as possible.

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