36 year old Salvador Alvarenga earned the title of the longest surviving castaway after surviving on a diet of birds, turtle blood, sharks, rain water and his own urine for 438 days.
What was supposed to be a 48 hour fishing trip took an almost fatal turn as Alvarenga and his companion, 15 year old Ezequiel Cordoba, encountered a vicious storm and violent waves that tore through the ship.
His companion, who would earn $50 for going along on the two day trip, would not survive the ordeal. He ate a bird that had previously consumed a poisonous sea snake and after falling ill he began refusing food.
Alvarenga was an older experienced fisherman, and knew that he had to keep eating anything he could to survive, however, Cordoba, with his deteriorating health, began to panic and have hallucinations and delusions, often trying to throw himself over board and into the ocean despite the presence of sharks in the water. He would not recover and died on the boat.
Salvador Alvarenga kept Cordoba’s corpse for company, holding conversations with it and making small talk for almost a week. He would tell the body “Good morning” and ask “have you eaten yet?” often answering his own questions. Finally realizing his madness and fearing the onset of insanity, he tossed the corpse over board into the open water.
Alvarenga admitted that he wanted to commit suicide a few days after the death of his friend, but his religious beliefs would not allow it. He pushed on.
Eventually, After 13 long months lost at sea, on the 30th of January of 2014, Salvador Alvarenga swam to the shore of a small island of the Ebon Atoll where he was found dehydrated, naked and bellowing in Spanish by two locals.
After recovering, he published a book about his experience, titled “438 days”, which only managed to sell around 1,500 copies. Cordoba’s family filed to sue him for the sum of one million dollars and claimed that Alvarenga had eaten his companion despite denial from the man in question.