Updated 03:36 AM EDT, Mon, Oct 20, 2014
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Salvadoran Fisherman Survived 13 Months Lost at Sea by Eating Turtle Blood

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Marshall Islands
A Salvadoran fisherman who claims to have been lost adrift for more than a year turned up in the Marshall Islands last week. (Photo : Keith Polya)

A Salvadoran fisherman who was blown off course while working the waters off the coast of Mexico has turned up in the South Pacific claiming to have survived for more than one year adrift on the ocean.

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Jose Salvador Alvarenga is telling authorities that he survived by catching seagulls and turtles with his bare hands, drinking their blood and even staving off dehydration by drinking his own urine.

Alvarenga says that he had been working the waters off the southern Mexican state of Chiapas when his boat's engine died and he and a companion drifted out to sea. According to Alvarenga, his teenage companion died very early on in his voyage.

The Salvadoran, with unkempt hair and tattered clothes, first showed up on a beach in the Marshall Islands last week and was discovered by two women who took the castaway to their village where he caught a boat ride to the nearest larger town.

Initially, Alvarenga's story of surviving 13 months at sea was dismissed by some experts as highly unlikely, but certain facts have surfaced that support his account of events.

Jaime Marroquin, a supervisor with the State Civil Protection services for Chiapas, told CBS News that there was in fact a search for two fishermen who went missing back in November, and that the search was called off after two days. While the names of the fisherman were not accurate in the account, Marroquin said he was relieved to find out that one of the fishermen had survived the ordeal.

"I'm so very happy to know he's alive," his 14-year-old daughter Fatima told the Associated Press. "He's alive and I'm going to see him."

Alvarenga's family had thought that he had certainly perished when he failed to return from the fishing trip and the search for his boat had turned up nothing. When he was first rescued, he said that he had wanted to alert his family, but he could not remember the name of the village he was from or even his own phone number.

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