Survival:  An Extreme Case

By Shlomo  Maital

          Jose Ivan Morales

Jose Ivan Morales

  The Guardian, BBC and other media report the strange story of Jose Ivan Morales, a Mexican fisherman, who with two companions went to sea in a small 24 ft.  boat …and ended up 16 months later in the Marshall Islands, 8,000 miles away from Mexico.

    The fishermen left Mexico in September 2012.  Apparently there was a technical failure – the propellers fell off.  The two companions ostensibly died during the journey.

    How did Jose Ivan survive?   According to The Guardian, “Ivan indicated … that he survived by eating turtles, birds and fish and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain. No fishing gear was on the boat and Ivan suggested he caught turtles and birds with his bare hands. There was a turtle on the boat when it landed at Ebon.”

     One of my favorite programs on the Discovery channel is Bear Grylls’ program on survival. Grylls, who served for years in the British special forces,  dives into icy Arctic water,  tumbles down slopes, is buried in an avalanche, and in general shows us how to eat anything available, and build shelter, to continue to stay alive.  The key principle?  Never, ever give up.  Never quit.  People die of lack of hope, more than anything.

     Jose Ivan has taught us that you can survive in impossible conditions, if you improvise, act, and continue to hope.   I wish all those who lose hope and take their own lives could receive this message somehow.