4 Feb 2014

Fisherman reaches Marshall Islands after year adrift

11:32 am on 4 February 2014

A fisherman from El Salvador who washed ashore on the Marshall Islands said he survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean, drinking turtle blood and catching fish and birds with his bare hands.

Jose Salvador Albarengo is brought ashore.

Jose Salvador Albarengo is brought ashore. Photo: AFP

Jose Salvador Albarengo, 37, said he went on a shark fishing trip late in December 2012 from Mexico, 10,000km away, but was blown out to sea.

He was found on a remote coral atoll where he was washed up last week in a 7.3-metre fibreglass boat. A police patrol boat took him to Majuro, the capital.

"He's having trouble walking, his legs are very skinny. I'm not ready to call this a hoax, I think this guy has done some serious time at sea," said film maker Jack Niedenthal after speaking briefly to Albarengo through an interpreter.

He reportedly set sail with another fisherman, who died a month into their ordeal.

The Marshall Islands has a population of 68,000 people spread over 24 coral atolls.

In 2006, three Mexican fishermen picked up by a Taiwanese tuna trawler near the islands said they had spent nearly nine months at sea after drifting across the Pacific in a flimsy fishing boat.