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8 incredible real-life castaway stories

José Salvador Alvarenga

Photo: Hilary Hosia/AFP/Getty Images

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José Salvador Alvarenga

One of history's most recent unlikely survival stories is that of José Salvador Alvarenga, an El Salvador man who was lost at sea for 13 months until washing ashore 6,000 miles from home on the tiny atoll of Ebon, in the Marshall Islands. Alvarenga claims that he survived by catching fish with his bare hands and drinking bird blood. He became a castaway while on a shark-fishing expedition when the ship lost power in a storm.

Because he was found in relative good health, some officials are skeptical about the details of his story, but there is little doubt that he underwent a remarkable journey. An investigation is still underway to determine exactly what happened during his 13-month absence.