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Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you think the "Man lost at sea for 18 months in nothing but a row boat" was a hoax story?

Asked by Dutchess_III (36383points) February 12th, 2014

I’m watching BBC and they showed video of the guy after he was checked into a hospital. It just hit me that he had plenty of weight on him, as this picture shows. Do you think it was a hoax?

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14 Answers

Stinley's avatar

How fat was he when it happened?

GoldieAV16's avatar

Based solely on his appearance it is impossible to claim it’s a hoax. (I have heard 13 months, not 18.) The body starts to retain water when it’s experiencing multiple organ failure, a condition known as ascites, in addition to edema. The doctors who examined him felt that his story was “probable,” as did the officials who investigated it fairly thoroughly (from what I’ve read).

And the young man who was lost at sea (his fellow fisherman) has been missing in his village since December 2012, which is when this was supposed to have started.

So as unlikely as it seems, the story does add up.

Cruiser's avatar

No I do not think his story is true. It is mentioned in the article in the link that he drank his own urine when it did not rain for three months.

“The hardest thing I had to do to survive was to drink my own urine,” he told AFP, adding that he was forced to take the drastic measure during a period when “for three months it didn’t rain.”

My knowledge of survival is that you can only do that 3 times the urine will be too concentrated and harmful to drink. And you certainly can’t drink sea water and of course cannot survive more than 3 days without water.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Stinley I provided a link to a picture in the details.

Stinley's avatar

I did look at the link and he does look a bit plump round the face. i was wondering if he was really fat when he got shipwrecked and just ‘lived’ off his own fat? (there was a case in the BMJ of a man who fasted under medical supervision for over a year). Though that doesn’t explain how he got enough water to drink. Did he fill up the hull of his boat and live off that for the three months when it didn’t rain?

I’m not sure we’ve got enough facts to come to a conclusion!

ibstubro's avatar

Drinking his own urine was a red flag for me, too, @Cruiser. Then the 3 months without rain? Oh, com on.

Even if he killed and ate the boy with him I don’t see that it could sustain him THAT long. I suppose he could have kept the boy alive and eaten him slowly. And I seem to recall that when the plane wrecked n the Andes, they sliced the muscle meat thin and dried it into longer lasting and more palatable jerky, but then that brings us back to water.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There was no shortage of water in the Andes wreck.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, I know there was water in the Andes, @Dutchess_III My point was to be that if he’d made jerky on the boat, it might have made the food more palatable, and longer lasting, but would also increase his need the for the non-existent water.

Spoilage wasn’t a particular problem in the Andes, either. I think the jerky thing was to help get past the revulsion of eating other people.

GoldieAV16's avatar

He also ate birds and sea turtles – that could provide hydration for times when it did not rain. It also could well be that it seemed like months without rain, when it was in fact days. I would imagine that he’d be in a hallucinatory state of delirium for much of his time at sea. If the story is true, that is, and doctors and investigators seem to think that it is.

GoldieAV16's avatar

An interview with an expert on human survival as relates to this case here.

GoldieAV16's avatar

Another good story about the event, here.

Cruiser's avatar

One other point of contention I have is that turtles are prime carriers of salmonella and would find it just short of a miracle that his survival was in part from eating sea turtles raw. So at the very least he would have gotten seriously ill and puked and had diarrhea and subsequently died from rapid dehydration.

“Dr. Nichols and other scientists have found that sea turtles (family Cheloniidae) absorb a lot of pollution from the ocean, including pesticides and heavy metals like mercury and cadmium. These toxins are health hazards for both turtles and humans and can cause permanent damage to their bodies. Sea turtles also carry the bacteria salmonella, which can cause severe diarrhea in people. Research shows that many people get sick and even die from eating sea turtle meat.”

ibstubro's avatar

The people that found him reported the boat was full of turtle carcasses, @Cruiser, however. Kinda odd that the raw turtle, fish and bird bodies didn’t bother him, but his dead friend’s did. Then again, maybe that’s how he attracted birds.

It seems to me that it would be nearly impossible to to be active enough to prevent your muscles from atrophying, and yet not have sores/sunburn.

Still, we have to give weight to the fact that he was apparently obese at the outset, probably has limited literacy and was a fisherman for 15 years. Possibly he had experienced days, weeks, months alone on the water.

Some of the experts cited just muddy the water. Polynesia to Chili ancient traffic? Well, yes, that’s highly probable, but how likely is it that the natives did that provisioned for a 3 hour tour?

Adagio's avatar

I’m usually cynical but I believe this one.

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