This morning, National Geographic Orion awoke to glassy seas in the East Sepik Province. Common terns and bow-riding spinner dolphins entertained those on the outer decks as we approached the community of Wewak.
During World War II in 1943, Wewak was the site of the largest Japanese air base on the mainland of New Guinea. It suffered repeated bombing attacks by the United States and Australian Air Forces. In August of 1943, heavy bombing and strafing by 150 Allied aircraft destroyed an estimated 50% of the Japanese aircraft on the ground. This was not the end of operations against the Japanese in the Aitape-Wewak area, as they continued until the end of the war in August 1945.
After clearing customs into Papua New Guinea and picking up some local representatives, we continued making our way towards the Sepik River. We had some wonderful talks throughout the day with hopes of doing a Zodiac cruise in the Murik Lakes area in the afternoon. Greeted by some curious locals in boats as we arrived, a scout boat checked out the conditions in the mouth of the large lake. Unfortunately, by the time we headed to the opening of the Murik Lakes, the swell had increased to 6+ feet. This was way too risky for our Zodiacs. Back on board, we made the best of travelling in the back of beyond and appreciated the risk management of our crew.