TODAY   |  February 05, 2014

Man shares incredible story of survival in Pacific

The castaway who said he was lost in the Pacific for more than a year is sharing his story, but some skeptics have doubts about it. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> have you heard this one? it sounded like an incredible tale of survival in the pacific, and now growing evidence it might actually be true. a man who recently surfaced claims he survived being lost at sea , get this, for more than a year. well, some doctors are saying this story is plausible. there are some skeptics. let's get the story now from miguel almaguer.

>> reporter: for the cast away thought to be dead more than a year, pictures from london's "daily mail" show a fresh haircut, a clean shave, and a tale of survival as long and tangled as the beard he once had. jose wobbled back on to land with a story even he can't believe. god, he says, kept him alive as he watched a crew mate die of starvation. i was going to kill myself, he says. i saw my friend die of hunger and thirst. while in a 24-foot boat like this one, he says the storm swept him 6,000 miles from mexico to the marshall islands without food, water or fishing gear. he says he used a box to shelter himself from the sun as he drifted on a boat about this size. he says he killed fish, turtles and birds to stay alive and drank rain water whenever he could. he says he survived 14 months in the open ocean before finally seeing land and swimming ashore.

>> thank god, thank god, thank god over and over again.

>> the 37-year-old who looks healthy is suffering from swollen organs, which may explain his bloated appearance, say doctors who treated him.

>> i have no reason to believe he was lying to me. he looked me in the eye, he answered my questions directly.

>> but his story of survival has plenty of critics, especially on social media . it shocked his family back home who had never given up hope. his mother says, i always dreamed he was alive. a castaway who says he beat the odds and cheated death. but this morning, faces skeptics. for "today," miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles .

>> cynical the society suspects the story not to be true.

>> people are suspicious because the appearance isn't what someone would expect after 14 months at sea.

>> i think it was just one official. it wasn't this ground swell and maybe anonymous people on social media . but the experts believed him.

>> can you imagine surviving 14 months and no one believes?

>> the good news is, his soccer ball just washed up.