Castaway: Norwegian researcher finds shipwrecked man

Posted Jan 31, 2014 by Anne Sewell
Ola Fjeldstad has been doing research work on Ebon, an atoll in the Marshall Islands, and in the process discovered more than he bargained for. He found an emaciated Mexican man who claims he was shipwrecked on the island.
Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands
Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands
While it sounds like Tom Hanks in the film Castaway, this story is reportedly a true one, and there was no volleyball named "Wilson."
Fjeldstad is a Norwegian anthropology student who was doing research on the distant Pacific Island.
On Thursday, he reported that he had found a castaway, claiming to have spent 16 months adrift at sea, and had traveled over 12,500 kilometers (8,000 miles) before ending up on the island.
According to Fjeldstad, the man speaks only Spanish and called himself Jose Ivan. He apparently has long hair and a tangled beard.
Apparently two locals found the man on the island after his battered, 24ft (7.3m) fiberglass boat ended up on the reef surrounding the island.
According to Fjeldstad, the man's condition is not good, but he is getting better. Ivan is apparently suffering from low blood pressure and is very thin, but is otherwise OK.
Reportedly the castaway was wearing only some ragged, bleached underpants. He had told him that he and a friend had left his homeland, Mexico, 8,000 miles away to travel to nearby El Salvador during September 2012.
Seems like he went astray somewhere along the line. His friend reportedly died some months before.
Fjeldstad said, "The boat is really scratched up and looks like it has been in the water for a long time."
There was no fishing tackle in the boat and according to Ivan, he had been eating birds, turtles and fish to survive, and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.
Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
Dr. James P. McVey, NOAA Sea Grant Program
Fjeldstad told the media that the residents took Ivan to the closest island with a phone line. From there they apparently called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Majuro, the Marshall Islands' capital.
Apparently the only plane in the area capable of landing on the island is currently being serviced and won't be available until Tuesday next week, so Ivan is likely to be trapped on the island until then.
At least he will be able to live in more comfort than he has been experiencing for the last few months.
"He's staying at the local council house and a family is feeding him," said Fjeldstad.
"We've been giving him a lot of water, and he's gaining strength," he added.
Located in the northern Pacific, the Marshall Islands have barely 60,000 residents, spread over 24 atolls. Most of these atolls are, on average, just two meters above sea level.
To get an idea of how far the castaway had gone astray, the following Google map shows you, with A representing Mexico, and B representing the Marshall Islands - a distance of 12,500 kilometers (8,000 miles):
Map showing the distance between Mexico and the Marshall Islands
Map showing the distance between Mexico and the Marshall Islands
Google maps