Mexican castaway washed up on Pacific island after 14 months at sea, surviving on the blood of small birds and turtles
The Mexican castaway who washed up on a Pacific island after 14 months at sea begged to be fed tortilla when he was first found, it has emerged.
Sporting a bedraggled beard and long hair, Jose Salvador Alvarenga crawled onto a beach on the Marshall Islands on Thursday.
He told locals he had drifted more than 8,000 miles from the coast of Mexico where he had left on a shark hunting trip on December 2012.
Speaking through an interpreter to MailOnline, Alvarenga told of how he caught small birds and turtles and drank their blood to survive during his ordeal.
He said a younger friend called Ezekiel who had left on the trip with him wasn’t able to stomach the diet and died.
He had to push the body overboard.
“The boat broke down and we started drifting,” he said.
“We were lucky that we had already caught two sharks that day and we were able to eat them for a time but then they went bad (rancid) and we had to throw the carcasses overboard.”
He said he hid under a large box on deck to protect himself from the sun and prayed every day to be saved.
But having finally made it to dry land, locals said Alvarenga rejected their offers of coconut and papaya when they first found him, shouting ‘tortilla! tortilla!’ instead.
“I know that God saved me. I am glad that I believe in him,” Alvarenga said.
Locator map Ebon Atoll
Officials are still trying to establish whether the castaways story is entirely true.
Some have expressed doubt because he appears to be remarkably healthy for someone who has been adrift at sea for so long.
The acting secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands, Gee Bing said: “I’m not sure if I believe his story. When we saw him, he was not really thin compared to other survivors in the past.
“I may have some doubts. Once we start communicating with where he’s from, we’ll be able to find out more.”
Medics have suggested he could be suffering from edema, a condition which produces swelling because of too much sun and salt.
Many have said the incredible story shares similarities with the Tom Hanks film Cast Away.