Reality Imitates Art
Huene Island in the Pacific
With their boundless vistas of turquoise water framed by swaying coconut palms, the Carteret Islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland might seem the idyllic spot to be a castaway.Art:
But sea levels have risen so much that during the annual king tide season, November to March, the roiling ocean blocks the view from one island to the next, and residents stash their possessions in fishing nets strung between the palm trees.
“It gives you the scary feeling that you don’t know what is going to happen to you, that any minute you will be floating,” Ursula Rakova, the head of a program to relocate residents, said by telephone. The small chain could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands.
There is a question whether desde Desdemona is an intermittent island or a sandbar with trees, or both, or neither. One thing is certain: twice a day at high tide the sea covers everything except the two large rocks that mark the ends of the reef, and the trees, which hold the tree houses and catwalks that make up desde Desdemona's villages. At low tide, the villages are joined by a very broad, very flat white sand beach.