No, this isn't the plot of Life of Pi retold, but it sure sounds like it. A bearded, emaciated man wearing only tattered underpants washed onto a remote Pacific atoll in the Marshall Islands yesterday, and told the locals who found him he'd been floating at sea in his 24-foot fiberglass boat since Sept. 2012. Jose Ivan and a friend—who Ivan says died several months ago—had set off from Mexico en route to El Salvador. While details remain sketchy, Ivan told a researcher on Ebon Atoll he survived on turtles, birds, and fish he caught with his bare hands, drinking turtle blood when there was no rain, the AFP reports.
After what he claims were 16 months at sea and what would be more than 8,000 miles traveled, "His condition isn't good, but he's getting better," the researcher added, noting Ivan's boat "looks like it has been in the water for a long time." A turtle was spotted on board, but no fishing gear. Locals took him to the main island—home to the only phone line—and placed a call to the capital of Majuro, where he'll be headed as soon as a boat can fetch him, or the government airline's single plane can be fixed. "He's staying at the local council house and a family is feeding him," the researcher said. "We've been giving him a lot of water, and he's gaining strength." (More Life of Pi stories.)