EXCLUSIVE: 'I'm desperate and exhausted': Mexican shark fisherman who spent 13 MONTHS adrift in the Pacific gives first account of his ordeal and how he survived by drinking TURTLE BLOOD
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- Jose Ivan was discovered by locals on the Ebon Atoll on Thursday
- Claims he left Mexico for El Salvador in December 2012 with a companion who died at sea several months ago
- He says he has spent the last 13 months floating across the Pacific
- Ivan only survived by catching turtles, bird and fish with his bare hands
- He also had to drink turtle blood when there was no rain
- 'I'm desperate and I want to get back to Mexico, but I don't know how,' he said
Across a crackling radio transmission, the 'Miracle Man of the Pacific Ocean' told for the first time today how his incredible 16 months adrift in a small boat had left him 'desperate and exhausted.'
Speaking briefly to MailOnline through an interpreter as he was carried by boat from a tiny atoll to the main port in the isolated Marshall Islands, Jose Ivan told of his anxiety to be reunited with his family.
'I just want to get back home to Mexico, but I don't even know where I am,' he said, his voice filled with emotion.
Miraculous survival: A man, believed to be called Jose Ivan, claims to have set off from Mexico for El Salvador in December 2012 but ended up traveling more than 8,000 miles to the Ebon Atoll
During what he said was more than a year drifting helplessly through the treacherous waters of the Pacific after his small boat broke down when he and a fisherman colleague had set out from the Mexican coast, Jose said he was 'tired and sad.'
Ivan's companion had died at sea several months ago, he added.
Despite earlier reports that he had left his port in September 2012 to sail to El Salvador, he said over the crackly radio transmission from ship-to-ship today that he had in fact set out to sea December 25 of that year, more than 13 months ago.
'We set off to go shark fishing,' he told a Mexican interpreter on a yacht moored in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Island.
It is understood his small boat encountered engine trouble and the currents carried them out into the ocean.
Despite their attempts to attract other vessels, they continued to drift further out to sea - and it was then, as the weeks and the months dragged by, that their desperate struggle to survive took up every minute.
Speck of land: One of the small islands of Ebon atoll, which shows how little land separates the Pacific Ocean from the inner lagoon
Hardscrabble life: A local woman is pictured cooking with coconuts on Ebon atoll
Jose has told islanders who found him emaciated on an outlying atoll that his friend had died at sea and he had struggled to survive by drinking turtle blood when there was no rain and had eaten raw fish.
But today as he was being transported from the atoll to Majuro, the main port in the Marshall Islands, he managed to show a trace of humour despite his terrible ordeal.
'If someone gets me home, I'm sure my boss will pay,' he said in the radio transmission.
Jose told the Mexican interpreter who had contacted him through a yacht's radio in Majuro: 'I still don't where I am or what happened.
'I'm desperate and I want to get back to Mexico, but I don't know how.'
His words were evidence of his state of mind - a man who appeared bewildered at reaching land and falling into the arms of kindly villagers on Ebon atoll. He was fed and given water and given a bed to rest his emaciated body.
Jose's voice now croaking with exhaustion as he spoke over the radio from the Marshall Islands Sea Patrol vessel Lomor, the communication was lost.
Officials in Majuro were told that despite the care he had been given by the people of Ebon atoll and the fact that he had been able to walk around the village, he was still in poor health and preparations were being made for an ambulance to meet him when the patrol vessel docked.
A boy on Ebon atoll where the Mexican drifter came ashore helps to prepare a meal of fish
As word spread around the Marshalls about the miracle survivor of the Pacific, no group of people were more excited at having encountered him than the villagers on Ebon, the most southern of the island group's atolls.
With a population of just over 700 people, it lies about 230 miles from Majuro - and it is believed that it was just 'the luck of the currents' that resulted in the fisherman being cast ashore in his battered 24ft fiberglass boat with propellerless engines on the thin strip of land that makes up the atoll.
It was by chance that two villagers saw the man and answered his desperate waving. Before them, hardly able to stand, was a figure with long beard and unkempt hair.
Jose was taken by small boat to another part of the atoll group where a young Norweigian anthropology student, Ola Fjeldstad, managed to have a broken conversation with him and learn something of his amazing story of survival.
It was then that the local mayor, Ione deBrum, used the atoll group's only phone to put a call through to the Marshall Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his existence became known.
His words over the radio today made it clear, however, that his immediate plan, once his health had returned, was to return home to his family in Mexico.
Miraculous survival: He was discovered by locals when he washed up on the Ebon Atoll, pictured, in the Pacific Ocean after 16 months stranded at sea
Stories of survival in the vast Pacific are not uncommon. In 2006, three Mexicans made international headlines when they were discovered drifting, also in a small fiberglass boat near the Marshall Islands, in the middle of the ocean in their stricken boat, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition.
They survived on a diet of rainwater, raw fish and seabirds, with their hope kept alive by reading the bible.
And in 1992, two fishermen from Kiribati were at sea for 177 days before coming ashore in Samoa.
The government airline's only plane that can land at Ebon is currently down for maintenance and is not expected to return to service until Tuesday at the earliest, with officials considering sending a boat to pick up the castaway.
The Marshall Islands, in the northern Pacific, are home to barely 60,000 people spread over 24 atolls, with most of them standing at an average of just two metres above sea level.
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