21 Feb 2014

University of Hawai'i computer models support fisherman's drift from Mexico

6:52 am on 21 February 2014

The Salvadoran fisherman's drift from Mexico to Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands has been supported by computer models at the University of Hawai'i.

Although Jose Salvador Alvarenga's more than one-year voyage sparked skepticism when he appeared last month, his story matches simulations of a computer model developed at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's International Pacific Research Center.

Scientist Nikolai Maximenko and scientific programmer Jan Hafner placed 16 tracers into their ocean model 200 nautical miles southwest of the coastal fishing village Chiapas, Mexico around the time that Alvarenga says he was blown off shore in late 2012.

While some of the tracers used in the simulation moved faster and overshot the Marshall Islands over the period, others have not yet reached the islands.

They say Mr Alvarenga's claim that he had been adrift for 13 months and that he came from Mexico falls well within the model's limits and is consistent with the prevailing pattern of wind and ocean currents during his ordeal.

Mr Alvarenga returned home to an emotional reunion with his family in El Salvador last week.