Title

In Search of Te Lapa: A Navigational Enigma in Vaeakau-Taumako, Southeastern Solomon Islands

Publication Title

The Journal of the Polynesian Society

Publication Date

3-2011

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Te Lapa, Vaeaku-Taumako, Southeastern Solomon Islands

Disciplines

Anthropology

Abstract

David Lewis, in his classic We, the Navigators, discussed a phenomenon that navigators in the Santa Cruz group of the southeastern Solomon Islands use for land finding. Lewis described it as akin to underwater lightning and referred to it as 'deep phosphorescence'; speakers of the local Polynesian language call it te lapa. Here I present the somewhat inconsistent lapa-related observations of experienced sailors from Taumako, Vaeakau, and other islands of the Solomons as well as my own frustrating and inconclusive efforts over nine months of field research to observe and document it.

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