ISLANDERS on the remote Pacific atoll of Ebon do not see much passing sea traffic so when a battered fibreglass boat floated on to their reef, they were understandably curious.
To their amazement, an emaciated man, with long straggly beard and hair, dressed only in torn underpants, his skin weather-beaten from sun and salt, was inside the vessel, along with a turtle.
He had a remarkable story to tell, saying that he had survived 16 months adrift on the Pacific, eating turtles, birds and fish that he caught with his hands and drinking turtle blood and rainwater.
It is a story reminiscent of the Tom Hanks film 'Cast Away'. And if details are confirmed, it is believed he will claim the record for surviving the longest time adrift after floating more than 8,000 miles from Mexico.
The details are still sketchy, not least as the man speaks only Spanish and there is only one telephone and no internet connection on the atoll, the southern-most outpost of the Marshall Islands.
He has communicated that his name is Jose Ivan and that he left Mexico for El Salvador in September 2012 with a companion who died at sea several months ago. His story was in turn relayed to the world by Ola Fjelstad, a Norwegian anthropology student conducting research on the atoll, who spoke by telephone to the AFP news agency.
"His condition isn't good, but he's getting better," Mr Fjeldstad said. "The boat is really scratched up and looks like it has been in the water for a long time."
Mr Ivan indicated he survived by eating turtles, birds and fish caught by hand as there was no fishing gear on board. He drank turtle blood when there was no rain. (© Daily Telegraph, London)