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Man says he ate birds, turtles in 13 months adrift at sea

By Nick Perry

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Feb. 3 2014 2:32 p.m. MST

Bing said the man had no identification with him, and other details of his story remained sketchy. Camarena said Alvarenga gave his hometown as Garita Palmera, in El Salvador's Ahuachapan province. Mexico said it was coordinating with the Salvadoran government to provide assistance to the man.

The survivor's vital signs appeared good except that his blood pressure was a bit low, Bing said. After doctors give him the all-clear, Bing said, officials hope to repatriate him to Mexico or whatever country is appropriate.

Erik van Sebille, a Sydney-based oceanographer at the University of New South Wales, said there was a good chance a boat drifting off Mexico's west coast would eventually be carried by currents to the Marshall Islands. He said such a journey would typically take 18 months to two years depending on the winds and currents, although 13 months was possible.

"The way that the currents in the Pacific work is that there is a very strong westerly current just north of the equator and that basically drives you directly from Mexico all the way toward Indonesia and in the path, you go right over the Marshall Islands," he said.

There have been other cases of people surviving for months adrift in the Pacific. In a case with similarities, three Mexican shark fishermen in 2006 said they were lost at sea for nine months before being rescued near the Marshall Islands. In 1989, four men survived nearly four months in the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand after their multi-hulled boat capsized.

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Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

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