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9 real-life castaways who are tougher than Tom Hanks

Some were teenagers. Some were in Siberia. Some lived to tell about it, and some did not.

The news this week of a castaway washing ashore in the remote Marshall Islands is the stuff of fiction. And actually Jose Salvador Alvarenga's story very well may be.

Hard to say. He claims to have gone out shark fishing one day in December 2012, when his boat blew off course. The companion he was with died shortly thereafter, and for 13 months Alvarenga says he survived by eating fish he caught with his bare hands and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

However, more than one official has cast doubt on the fisherman's story. He looks pretty darn good for having been stranded at sea for 13 months, they say.

You be the judge:

A Mexican who identified himself as Jose Salvador Alvarenga. (Hilary Hosia/AFP/Getty Images)

Anyway, clearly the guy has been through some ordeal. A beard like that doesn't just grow itself.

But the news does call to mind previous individuals, who were all — either by their own volition or not — cast away. Some were teenagers. Some were in Siberia. Some lived to tell about it, and some did not.

Here are their stories:


1) Alexander Selkrik

Robinson Crusoe Island, west of Chile. (Martin Bernetti/AFP//Getty Images)

So the real-life Robinson Crusoe was most likely a Scottish man by the name of Alexander Selkirk, who did fend for himself on a deserted island for four years but who also wound up there more of his own volition than as a result of any shipwreck.

In October 1704, Selkirk was on the crew of a ship called St. George when it stopped at the archipelago of Juan Fernandez, west of Chile. Selkirk thought the ship was in bad shape and said he'd rather be left on Juan Fernandez than continue on in a vessel that wasn't seaworthy. Well, that's what he got. The captain left him ashore with some clothing, a musket, some tools, a Bible and tobacco.

At first, he sat and read his Bible, pretty sure another ship would be by soon ... four years and four months later a friendly ship finally crossed his path (two Spanish ships showed up before then, but he didn't trust them). In the meantime, he ate feral goats and steered clear of sea lions in heat. He built a couple huts and munched on wild turnips.

Today, the island he lived on has been renamed Robinson Crusoe (pictured above). A nearby island that he likely never set foot upon has been christened Alexander Selkirk.


2) Leendert Hasenbosch

"Port view with two flute ships," a copper engraving by Reinier Nooms, late 17th century. (Wikimedia Commons)

The tale of Hasenbosch isn't a happy one. As punishment for sodomy, the Dutchman was abandoned on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic in 1725. He kept a diary, from which we know that he began his stay on the island with a tent, seeds, a month's worth of water, books, writing materials and even extra clothes. But when his water ran out, Hasenbosch was at a loss to find a freshwater source. He took to drinking turtle blood and his own urine to stay hydrated. He likely died after about six months; British sailors discovered his abandoned tent and diary in January 1726.

The story becomes all the more tragic once you find out that there are actually two sources of fresh water on the island, one of which allowed the entire crew of the HMS Roebuck to survive a shipwreck for two months in the early 1700s.


3) Marguerite de La Rocque

Historic Chateau de la Mothe near Nontron in France, where Marguerite de La Roque lived. (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1542, French explorer Jacques Cartier led a voyage to Newfoundland. Marguerite de La Rocque, then 19, and her uncle were among those who accompanied him. During the voyage, Marguerite began sleeping with another man. Her uncle, apparently taking the moral high ground, booted them both off the