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Author Topic: FAQ: Crabs & sleeping... and Premature Demise on Gardner  (Read 36903 times)

Michael HALL

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FAQ: Crabs & sleeping... and Premature Demise on Gardner
« on: June 24, 2010, 02:31:37 PM »

Ok I admit not the most uplifting of topics but all the same an interesting thought.

How did EA and FN die? I am sure this has been asked before, but these are my thoughts

It is clear that they were not exactly alive and kicking in October, so they would of had a very short existance on the island, but why? I have seen the posts about toxic fish death, dehydration etc etc. But I feel two able bodied adults "without injury" could have avoided the toxic fish death theory, to my knowledge there are not that many fish of edible size will kill you. So onto dehydration. The island is tropical in nature (I assume) a plentyful of rain showers are likely, it does not take a genuis to make a water trap from various natural resources. The island has coconuts? Another source of fluid.

So is the fact they met a fate by injuries sustained by the landing more likely? A broken leg would soon succumb to infection? A head injury left untreated?

There is little talk of FN? Did he not make it ashore, being hurled around the back of the plane on landing making his demise more swift.

My guess is their existance on the island was very short lived and the crabs did the clean up job (sorry to be graphic) I am talking a time scale of no more than 2-3 weeks.

However if there was a burial site, and it was that of a women (AE?) maybe FN outlived AE and did the hounourable thing as somebody had to bury her?.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 02:34:32 PM by Michael HALL »
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Ashley Such

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2010, 03:18:30 PM »

Hmmm... About FN, I've heard some people have said that he hit his head on the plane somehow during the landing (if possible). Same thing with AE. There's one picture of the cockpit of the Electra, and there's a device with sharp edges. The bad news? AE's head probably would've been in front of that spot. So, if AE and FN were to have a rough landing, it'd probably be likely that AE would've hit her head on the sharp edges of the device.

Infection could probably be another thing from injuries...

Aboout dehydration: You got to remember that AE was terribly ill during that last flight... Not just dehydration, but stomach problems to diaherra. In that case, it could be easy to imagine that AE would've probably lost her strength easily if she was that ill.

And of course, crabs. Especially the coconut ones. Those things look like they can tear out one big piece of flesh, if possible. If a crab were to tear out that much out of you, you'd probably be dead.

I'm just giving my input here; my two cents. :)
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2010, 09:32:10 AM »

Okay, here we go.  Replying to Michael Hall.

How did EA and FN die?
Let's start by getting her initials right. Amelia Earhart was often known as AE.  It's not uncommon for people to reverse them as you did, probably because her name, phonetically, sounds like Emilia Airhart.

It is clear that they were not exactly alive and kicking in October, so they would of had a very short existance on the island...
Not necessarily. Read Bevington's Journal
A castaway at the Seven Site would have no way of knowing what was going on more than two miles away at the west end of the atoll.  The only time Bevington was anywhere near the Seven site was on the first day when he walked around the island with a few Gilbertese delegates.  Their route took them along the ocean beach in front of the Seven Site but by that time they were desperate for water, having brought none with them and grossly underestimated the size of the island. They were intent only on getting back to the west end. I can tell you from experience that, due to beachfront vegetation and the noise of wind and surf, someone at the Seven Site would not see or hear a marching brass band if it passed along the beach.

I have seen the posts about toxic fish death, dehydration etc etc. But I feel two able bodied adults "without injury" could have avoided the toxic fish death theory, to my knowledge there are not that many fish of edible size will kill you.
You're wrong.  See Ciguatera.

So onto dehydration. The island is tropical in nature (I assume) a plentyful of rain showers are likely, it does not take a genuis to make a water trap from various natural resources. The island has coconuts? Another source of fluid.

Rainfall at Nikumaroro is sporadic.  That's why the colony failed.  There are ways to collect rainwater after a shower but I'd be interested to hear how you would fashion a water trap from natural resources.  In October 1937 Maude and Bevington counted 111 coconut trees on the island.  In my experience, it's a rare Westerner who can climb a coconut palm. Try this experiment.  Buy a coconut at the grocery store that has fluid in it (shake it and you can hear the fluid). Take it home and try get it open without losing the fluid.  No fair using tools other than a pocket knife and hammer or hatchet.
So is the fact they met a fate by injuries sustained by the landing more likely? A broken leg would soon succumb to infection? A head injury left untreated?

There is little talk of FN? Did he not make it ashore, being hurled around the back of the plane on landing making his demise more swift.
Noonan was more likely riding in the copilot seat.

My guess is their existance on the island was very short lived and the crabs did the clean up job (sorry to be graphic) I am talking a time scale of no more than 2-3 weeks.

My guess (and it's only a guess based on my own interpretation of what we've found at the Seven Site) is that Earhart survived long enough to:
a) Figure out that the area we now call the Seven Site was the best place on the island to hang out.
b) Develop systems for collecting a purifying water.
c) Develop ways to catch fish, birds and even turtles.
d) Consume the amount of food evidenced in bones we found in the several fire features.

In my opinion she survived for a matter of months, not weeks.

However if there was a burial site, and it was that of a women (AE?) maybe FN outlived AE and did the hounourable thing as somebody had to bury her?.
The bones found unburied in 1940 appear to be female.  If a man and a woman die on an uninhabited island they probably don't expire at the same moment. The one who dies first may or may not get buried, depending upon the circumstances.  The one who dies second, by definition, does not get buried.

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Kevin Weeks

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2010, 09:55:46 AM »

Not necessarily. Read Bevington's Journal
A castaway at the Seven Site would have no way of knowing what was going on more than two miles away at the west end of the atoll.  The only time Bevington was anywhere near the Seven site was on the first day when he walked around the island with a few Gilbertese delegates.  Their route took them along the ocean beach in front of the Seven Site but by that time they were desperate for water, having brought none with them and grossly underestimated the size of the island. They were intent only on getting back to the west end. I can tell you from experience that, due to beachfront vegetation and the noise of wind and surf, someone at the Seven Site would not see or hear a marching brass band if it passed along the beach.

You're wrong.  See Ciguatera.


That's not exactly the way I read Bevington's journal Ric.

I agree in his journal Bevington stated they walked all the way around the island the first day.  By the time they got to the seven site, supposedly there was as much as a 3 hour gap between the first person to pass it and the last.  Stragglers who were very tired etc. they were back to where they started at 6:30pm.

The thing is, they were there for two more days and Bevington states that during this time he took Maude via canoe to various spots on the island that he found interesting and together they explored several more.  So we now have 3 days worth of time that many people were exploring the island and working to dig wells.  Does he say anywhere the location that the wells were dug??  Pretty vague on that in bevington's journal.

Sounds pretty far fetched that a castaway wouldn't be found or they find Bevington if they were alive.

On the toxic fish deal, seems like as a castaway you would be more likely to die from complications related to the toxin than the toxin itself??  Like dehydration due to diarrhea??
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:40:09 AM by J. Nevill »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2010, 10:01:01 AM »

Replying to Ashley

Hmmm... About FN, I've heard some people have said that he hit his head on the plane somehow during the landing (if possible). Same thing with AE. There's one picture of the cockpit of the Electra, and there's a device with sharp edges. The bad news? AE's head probably would've been in front of that spot. So, if AE and FN were to have a rough landing, it'd probably be likely that AE would've hit her head on the sharp edges of the device.

You're referring to a photo in Elgen Long's book "Amelia Earhart - The Mystery Solved" (Simon & Schuster, 1999) that purports to show the cockpit of the Electra as it was at the time of the second world flight attempt.  Elgen was wrong.  See The "Miami" Cockpit Photo.
There is some evidence to suggest that the control wheel on the copilot's side may have been removed to give Noonan more room to work.  If so, he may have been more likely to have struck his head in a rough landing.  The plane had seat belts but no shoulder harnesses.

Infection could probably be another thing from injuries...

Absolutely.  Any cut or scratch is prone to infection on Niku unless treated promptly.  Coral abrasions are especially bad (and I have the scars to prove it).

Aboout dehydration: You got to remember that AE was terribly ill during that last flight... Not just dehydration, but stomach problems to diaherra. In that case, it could be easy to imagine that AE would've probably lost her strength easily if she was that ill.

Another myth. Earhart experienced some nausea during the South Atlantic crossing due gasoline fumes from the fuselage tanks having been overfilled in Natal, Brazil.  In Java, she and Noonan had some stomach upset after a big, spicy banquet in Batavia (modern Jakarta). We have found no support for allegations that Earhart was suffering from exhaustion or illness in New Guinea.  Both she and Noonan were reported to be in good health and look just fine in the photos and films.

And of course, crabs. Especially the coconut ones. Those things look like they can tear out one big piece of flesh, if possible. If a crab were to tear out that much out of you, you'd probably be dead.

Coconut crabs are definitely strong and you really don't want one to get hold of you, but they are also typically quite shy.  It's the little baseball-sized Strawberry Hermit crabs that will come after you.  Their claws are tiny and they can only pinch out a little chunk of you, but they can be quite aggressive and they often show up in gangs of a hundred or more. While we were eating lunch at the Seven Site we had to watch where we stepped because the ground was typically almost covered with Strawberry Hermits.  They'd climb up your boots and right up your pants leg if you let them.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 11:28:13 AM by moleski »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2010, 10:17:52 AM »

the thing is, they were there for two more days and Bevington states that during this time he took Maude via canoe to various spots on the island that he found interesting and together they explored several more. So we now have 3 days worth of time that many people were exploring the island and working to dig wells. Does he say anywhere the location that the wells were dug?? pretty vague on that in bevington's journal.

I had the pleasure and privilege of spending a couple days with Eric Bevington at his home in the south of England in 1992.  We reviewed his journal line by line. He traced out his routes and activities on a map of the island on the coffee table in front of us. We still have that map and a video of the entire interview.  The canoe trip with Maude didn't go much south of Bauareke Passage.  The wells were dug at the west end where the village would later be established.

sounds pretty far fetched that a castaway wouldn't be found or they find Bevington if they were alive.
It's difficult for anyone who hasn't been there to comprehend how big that island is.  Think of it this way.  Pick a spot - a store, a park, a neighborhood - two miles from where you are now.  How much do you know about what is happening there right now?  Now go to a back room in your house.  Is anyone walking past your house on the sidewalk out front?

on the toxic fish deal, seems like as a castaway you would be more likely to die from complications related to the toxin than the toxin itself?? like dehydration due to diarrhea??

There's no shortage of ways to die on Niku.
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2010, 10:32:26 AM »

I had the pleasure and privilege of spending a couple days with Eric Bevington at his home in the south of England in 1992.  We reviewed his journal line by line. He traced out his routes and activities on a map of the island on the coffee table in front of us. We still have that map and a video of the entire interview.  The canoe trip with Maude didn't go much south of Bauareke Passage.  The wells were dug at the west end where the village would later be established.

It's difficult for anyone who hasn't been there to comprehend how big that island is.  Think of it this way.  Pick a spot - a store, a park, a neighborhood - two miles from where you are now.  How much do you know about what is happening there right now?  Now go to a back room in your house.  Is anyone walking past your house on the sidewalk out front?

There's no shortage of ways to die on Niku.

AHH I had asked that a few days ago in another thread and never got a reply. AMAZING that you met the man and were able to actually get that information. I should have guessed that when you stated with authority where he went and how much time was spent in areas that you had spoken with him. Your depth of research and just general knowledge are astounding! I never fail to be impressed!

I full well realize the size and shape of the island. I just figured that in the 3 days they were there the castaways would have been to the lagoon and been able to see people across it.

What did Bevington think of the likelyhood that AE could have been there alive and been missed?
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Thom Boughton

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2010, 12:22:23 AM »


sounds pretty far fetched that a castaway wouldn't be found or they find Bevington if they were alive.


Keith....I would agree with Ric on this one.  

After you get marooned on such an island, for perhaps the first week or possibly two you will do a certain amount of recon as to what else is available to you on the island (available for survival or to aid in attracting rescue).  However, after you realise that the rest of the island is just more of the same that is close at hand at your chosen campsite.....you will be far too preoccupied with foraging food and potable water and fighting off the crabs and other creepy-crawlies to wander about.  Indeed, after a few weeks (or months) you will likely have little else on your mind.

Typically you will likely remain within a limited distance of your campsite simply as there is no reason to devote the energy or time to anything else.  Especially as there would be no reason to expect to gain anything from doing so.  (presumably, the reason you chose that campsite is that it offered the best balance of available foodstuffs and water and shade and etc.)  

As it would be most likely that your rescue would come after having been spotted by aircraft....the chances are quite low that you would routinely (much less daily) spend precious energy and foraging time climbing many miles (and hours) around a largely obstructed and densely overgrown island just on the off chance that there would that day be a launch carrying half a dozen men on unrelated business landing on the other side of your long-since deserted island in the middle of nowhere.  Not to mention that, if you're thinking clearly, you also know that such activities greatly increase your chances of being injured in such a way that you are ill-equipped to contend with.  Better and safer to stay near your camp...as it is what is more likely to attract attention than you waving whilst standing next to an island full of trees that are also waving.

And if the winds and surf are as constant and strong as Ric says (and I've no doubt whatsoever that they are) then it would more surprising if you DID hear them than if you didn't.

No....it sadly would not surprise me at all if, on an island of that size, they could be totally oblivious to each other...especially as Bevington's men had no mission to be looking for her anyway.

It's a sad situation to think about....but absolutely possible.



....tb
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« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 12:39:28 AM by Thom Boughton »
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2010, 01:54:23 PM »

Thom,

My reasoning for thinking that the castaway might see the party is solely based upon your very reasoning for them not being found. the seven site is one of the narrowest spots on the island.  The only time the castaways were close to the colonists would be during the walk around.  I think it would be safe to assume that the castaways would have gone to the lagoon every day in search of food. fish, clams, birds what have you are all easily found in or around the lagoon.  After the colonists went around the island they dug wells for two more days.  Canoes were taken around the lagoon during this time.  Obviously they wouldn't have heard the workers but they very well might have seen the canoe.


Another thought, I remember reading about the life boats from the norwich city being left on the island.  Has anyone looked into the possibility of them being utilized by the castaways?  From the account of the norwich city rescue I don't think they could have left the island in the boats due to the surf, but possibly around the lagoon??
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:46:22 AM by J. Nevill »
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Michael HALL

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2010, 02:00:25 PM »

My last remaining thought on this is fire!

The castaways would have been building lots of fires for various reasons, so not only smoke but also the smell of smoke travels a great distance. Furthermore after 3 months of fire wood gathering there would of been clear evidence of wood collection I am sure.

I still find hard to imagine that AE was still alive by October. landed on the island I have no doubt but still alive in october? I am leaning towards doubtful.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2010, 02:40:34 PM »

Unless we find some kind of diary or journal (not likely) we'll probably never know how long the castaway survived on the island.  All I'm saying is that a castaway could be at the Seven Site and never know that someone walked past on the beach until they, perhaps, later found footprints.
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Michael HALL

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2010, 02:51:48 PM »

I think we all would be wise to take note of your far greater judgement on this. It is naturally hard to imagine without being there (which is a great part of the understanding) that someone living for 3 months would not leave some sort of mark for someone to find.

I have done various trips to the maldives and my foot prints were still present some days after first walking on the sand.

The other thing is crabs, I found crabs dont take much notice of fires. My wife and I ended up sharing our romantic meal for two (which cost over $400) with a mass of crabs, we were throwing bits of food as far as we could to keep them away. With this thought I would be surprised if AE slept on the ground but more likely on some sort of structure off the ground. In this case the question is what?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 02:53:27 PM by Michael HALL »
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Thom Boughton

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2010, 01:35:53 AM »

my reasoning for thinking that the castaway might see the party is solely based upon your very reasoning for them not being found. the seven site is one of the narrowest spots on the island. the only time the castaways were close to the colonists would be during the walk around. I think it would be safe to assume that the castaways would have gone to the lagoon every day in search of food. fish, clams, birds what have you are all easily found in or around the lagoon. After the colonists went around the island they dug wells for two more days. canoes were taken around the lagoon during this time. Obviously they wouldn't have heard the workers but they very well might have seen the canoe.

Kevin....

Now I am going to confuse you.   I agree.

I agree that Bevington's men should have been seen.  And, indeed, this has been my view.  However, I do NOT think that such should be taken as a given or an absolute.  (All of this is of course predicated on the assumption that, by this time, there was anyone still alive to see them.  Although a distinct possibility, this too is not a given.)

My point earlier wasn't that AE and FN should not have been found....but rather that it is not terribly surprising if, just by virtue of bad timing and paths that didn't cross at the proper times (especially in view of the vast differences in daily agendas,) they just plain missed connecting and were ultimately therefore oblivious to each other.  It happens.  Especially as Bevington & Co were not on a mission to search for them in the first place and (to their minds, anyway) would have no reason to expect to find them or anyone else there. 

From nearly every account I've read of Niku, recent and historical, it seems there is no lack of opportunities for two separate parties to miss finding each other.  Between  distance, vegetation, and the ambient noise level, I don't find it surprising or 'far-fetched' in the least.

Bevington had no reason to expect to find AE/FN...and AE/FN had no reason to look to the interior of the island (the Lagoon) for rescue.  Logic would dictate that one should look outward to sea/air for rescue.

History is replete with examples of people (explorers, adventurers, unlucky fools, what have you) who, had they known of things which existed less than a mile from their position, could have walked away from their predicaments very nearly unscathed.  Yet, being ignorant to their existence, these people have instead gotten themselves killed, or starved to death, or worse.  It's not even rare....as such things go.   

Again, it's sad to think of.....but not uncommon by any means.

.....tb
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« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:47:24 AM by J. Nevill »
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2010, 04:38:28 AM »

Kevin....

Now I am going to confuse you.   I agree.

...Again, it's sad to think of.....but not uncommon by any means.
.....tb

And, I'll second your agreement with my own. these are all maybe, what if scenerios. Who knows, maybe a weakened AE/FN DID actually see the bevington party but were too far away to make contact or start a fire. We can what if ourselves to death, the only thing we know is they were not found.

one thing I forgot to ask ric about his meeting with bevington is where the location of the "bivouac" site was?? I'm thinking it was one of the campsites from the norwich crew?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:47:53 AM by J. Nevill »
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Alan Williams

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Re: FAQ: Premature Demise on Gardner
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2010, 05:22:31 AM »

In my opinion regarding either of the lost flight crew being discovered by a three day expedition to the island, Ric just nailed it with this. Ric couldn't have said it better:

"It's difficult for anyone who hasn't been there to comprehend how big that island is.  Think of it this way.  Pick a spot - a store, a park, a neighborhood - two miles from where you are now.  How much do you know about what is happening there right now?  Now go to a back room in your house.  Is anyone walking past your house on the sidewalk out front?"

What we're all doing is looking at nicely cropped air photos of the place and imagining if we could see someone in clear sight waving across the lagoon. It wouldn't be like that at all. I think the question would be if you only had three days could you find them if you were looking for them? What's happening two miles away from you in the woods right now? Simply impossible to tell.

Finally, after all that, I'll add in my opinion, my guess is that the survival time for AE/FN is only a matter of weeks, two/three. As Ric said, there just isn't any shortage of ways to die on Niku. You've got two people with no survival training who are used to getting out of their airplane and going to champagne dinners as the toast of the town and now those same people are down, totally alone, probably injured, possibly severely injured, no survival gear, fish (but possibly toxic fish), birds and coconuts to eat, no clear water supply, no fruits/vegetables, infection, no hope of rescue, beautiful silver plane down into deeper water. I'm guessing two/three weeks. I'm guessing after two/three weeks they might have just laid down to die.....
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