This Real Life Castaway Survived at Sea for 438 Days

This is Salvador Alvarenga’s story – his and Ezequiel Córdoba’s. Salvador was a 35-year-old fisherman from El Salvador that made his living as a “Los Tiburoneros,” or Shark Hunter in Costa Azul.


On November 17th of 2012 him and his inexperienced 22-year-old partner Ezequiel decided to set off for the sea during a storm; Salvador wasn’t worried about that though, he’s been out in many storms before.

As it turned out the storm managed to knock out his engine within the seven days it continued on for, and in the process managed to take his radio and fishing equipment as well. All they had was an icebox and a bucket – which they used to throw some water out that found it’s way on the ship.

Usually Salvador fishes anywhere from 50-100 miles off the coast of Mexico, but by the time the storm subsided he could tell they were far from anywhere he’s used to being. During an interview Salvador stated:

“We didn’t think about hunger at first – It was the thirst. We had to drink our own urine after the storm. It wasn’t until a month later that we finally got some rain water.”

In order to eat they did everything they could, from fishing barehanded to catching squatting birds using the floating boat as a rest stop. They even ended up drinking the blood of the birds that came by – they had no other choice! They ate every part of the birds sans the stomach contents which were usually along the lines of plastics and other assorted garbage. It got so bad for the two that Ezequiel eventually passed away on the boat, only to be buried at sea.




After 438 days Salvador spotted not a ship – but mountains. He was saved! He’d never have to eat fish again if he didn’t want to! He was so excited that as soon as he was close enough he swam the rest of the way to shore and passed out right in the sand.

He had floated around 6,000 miles on the sea for close to a year and a half, finding the Marshall Islands on January 29, 2014. He immediately bloated from the amount of water the island residents gave him and was quickly transported to another island with a hospital suited for him.

He now spends his days afraid of the ocean and refuses to return to fishing, despite the urges of the therapist he now sees to help with his insomnia and other things. Watch the video below for a full recount of this incredible survival story!

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