A fisherman who was blown off-course by high winds over a year ago, survived at sea on a diet of turtle blood and raw birds. The 37-year-old El Salvador man was rescued on Monday and could be seen sporting a bushy beard and clenching a can of Coke.
The fisherman, Jose Salvador Albarengo, needed the assistance of a male nurse to walk down the gangplank of the police boat which found him. The vessel brought him on a 22-hour journey from the remote coral atoll where he had been washed ashore last week.
Albarengo told US ambassador Thomas Armbruster, that although he was originally from El Salvador, he had lived in Mexico for the last 15 years. It was from there that he had set sail in December 2012.
Ambassador Armbuster said about Albarengo: “He said he is a shrimp and shark fisherman. He looked better than one would expect.”
As the castaway was unable to speak English, he communicated with interpreters via pictures and gestures. He informed them that he had survived the ordeal on a diet of turtles, raw birds and fish, and drank turtle blood to wash it all down, in the absence of rain.
Damien Jacklick, the Marshall Islands immigration chief, said that authorities were gathering the relevant information in order to repatriate Albarengo:
“With the help of the US ambassador, we were able to obtain information on his family members in El Salvador and the United States. We hope this information will help us track down his family,” he said.
Albarengo spoke briefly with Spanish translators, but medics plan to give him a full and thorough check-up before his interview with detectives.