Nggela Islands

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The Nggela Islands from the air. Photo by Jim Lounsbury
Map of the Florida Islands

The Nggela Islands, also known as the Florida Islands, are a small island group in the Central Province of Solomon Islands, a state in the southwest Pacific Ocean.[1]

The chain is composed of the two main islands, Nggela Sule to the north and Nggela Pile' to the south and a number of smaller islands, including Tulagi, Gavutu and Tanambogo. The name Florida Island is sometimes also used to refer to Nggela Sule.

History[edit]

The first recorded sighting by Europeans was by the Spanish expedition of Álvaro de Mendaña on 16 April 1568. More precisely the sighting was due to a local voyage done by a small boat, in the accounts the brigantine Santiago, commanded by Maestre de Campo Pedro Ortega Valencia and having Hernán Gallego as pilot. They were who charted it as Pascua Florida from where its present day name Florida derives.[2][3] Tulagi in Nggela Sule was the seat of the administration of the British Solomon Islands prior to the 1942 Japanese invasion in World War II.

The Nggela Islands group lies immediately north of the more famous island of Guadalcanal, the scene of the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II; however, Nggela Sule itself was garrisoned by the Japanese in April 1942 in connection with their efforts to establish a seaplane base on neighbouring Gavutu. On 7 August of the same year, the United States 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment landed on the island to provide cover for the assault on the neighbouring Tulagi islet. Florida Island would never become as famous as Guadalcanal, although it did serve as a small, very secondary base of operations for the US & Australian and New Zealand war effort in the Pacific for the duration of the war. Following the Allied liberation of the island from the Japanese, it became the site of a US seaplane base. The island subsequently served as a watering point for the US Navy, diverting water from an underground source on the island.

After World War II the British administration moved to Honiara, Guadalcanal.

Fauna[edit]

The possibly extinct Florida naked-tailed rat was endemic to the Nggela Islands. Other animals include Solomon's naked-backed fruit bat, long-tongued nectar bat, Woodford's fruit bat, island tube-nosed fruit bat, dwarf flying fox, Geoffroy's rousette, dark sheath-tailed bat, diadem leaf-nosed bat, great bent-winged bat. The black rat is introduced.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon Islands Tourism
  2. ^ Sharp, Andrew The discovery of the Pacific Islands Oxford, 1960, p.45.
  3. ^ Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.133.

Coordinates: 9°00′S 160°10′E / 9.000°S 160.167°E / -9.000; 160.167