Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi

Jose Ivan was found on a boat in the Pacific Marshall Islands atoll Thursday and said he was lost at sea since Sept. 2012, surviving on birds, fish and turtle blood when no water was available.

Reportedly, Ivan and a friend set out from Mexico heading toward El Salvador, but his sea mate died several months ago.

Two islanders spotted a small fiberglass boat awash on a remote Pacific atoll and discovered Ivan who was emaciated with a beard, long hair and wearing tattered underwear. The boat was found over 8,000 miles away from the starting point.

Ola Fjeldstad, a Norwegian anthropology student doing research on the Marshall Islands, said “His condition isn’t good, but he’s getting better.”

Because of a language barrier, details are not available. Reportedly, there were no fishing rods on the boat, but there was a turtle inside.

Fjeldstad told Agence France-Presse reporters by phone, “The boat is really scratched up and looks like it has been in the water for a long time."

When Ivan was found, he was taken to the main island, which is so remote that there is only one phone line. He met the mayor who then called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Marshall Islands capital per Fjeldstad.

He is now staying at a house where a family is feeding him.

Ivan was given a health check up and had no serious illnesses, but needs help to walk.

Fjeldstad said, “We’ve been giving him a lot of water, and he’s gaining strength.”

Fraser Christian, a Coastal Survival school teacher, said the man’s story is “remarkable,” but believable, and it is possible to catch small fish and turtles by hand.

Christian also said if in a similar situation and forced to eat turtles, start with their eyes which contain “lots of fluid”, then drink the blood.

He also said the major issue for Ivan would have been dehydration and exposure stating, "The basic rule is, no water, no food . . . If you have no fresh water and it doesn't rain for a few days, so you can't collect rainwater, you have basically had it."

Christian also said some are better able to survive than others and it boils down to “ . . . how used they are to dealing mentally with hardship.”

Click here for more reports by Phyllis L. Smith Asinyanbi.

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