This is the moment a tourist who claims to have spent three days at sea on a surfboard after falling off a cruise ship was rescued from the water.
Coastguards who rescued the man, believed to be British, off the coast of Marbella have today released the image showing him wearing a life jacket over a white shirt.
A spokesman for Spanish Coastguards said in a tweet: “Salvamar Vega yesterday rescued and took to Estepona a man discovered by a yacht 10 miles south-west of Marbella.
“He was adrift on a surfboard. The man who was rescued said he had been at sea for three days after falling from a ship.”
But the mystery surrounding the incident deepened today.
Coastguards said he had told the yacht that spotted him and the rescue ship that took him to dry land suffering from hypothermia that he had been at sea for three days after “falling off a cruise ship or merchant vessel.”
But police revealed the 55-year-old did not repeat his claims to them as they had taken him back to his Costa del Sol hotel after he received treatment at a local health centre.
A spokeswoman for the Spanish Coastguards confirmed: “The alarm was sounded at 14.52 on Monday.
“The crew of a yacht called Estelar contacted the emergency services to say they had come across a man on a surf board about 10 miles south-west of Marbella.
“Coastguard vessel Salvamar Vega was sent from Estepona where it has its base to rescue him.
“The operation was coordinated by our coastguard centre in Tarifa.
“He was taken back to Estepona and handed over to police so he could be taken to a health centre as he was suffering from hypothermia.
“He told the yacht crew and the coastguards that picked him up that he had been at sea for three days and that he had fallen off a ship he described at one point as a cruise liner and another as a merchant vessel.”
She added: “I haven’t got a full description of what he was wearing but I know he had a white shirt on.
“The job of investigating what actually happened is a police job but we’ve not been aware of anyone falling or jumping from a cruise ship or merchant vessel in the area.”
Responding to Spanish reports the man was British, she said: “We didn’t see a passport but from the look of the man and the way he spoke, he appeared to be British.”
A spokesman for the National Police in Malaga, who weren’t able to provide any immediate nationality information, said: “The person in question said he was on holiday in the area and was assisted in getting back to the address where he said he was staying.
“Our function here has simply been a humanitarian one.”
A well-placed source added: “He didn’t repeat his claims to police about being at sea for three days to the officers who assisted him. He was asked what had happened but didn’t say much.
“Police have checked his name against their database in Spain and he doesn’t have a criminal record nor is he known to police because of previous arrests and he hasn’t been reported as missing.
“Investigators have obviously looked into whether there have been any reports of people falling off ships in the area in the past week and there aren’t any.
“The man at the centre of this bizarre incident didn’t want to present any sort of complaint and because there’s no obvious indications a crime has been committed by him or against him.”