Mortlock Islands

I was surprised when searching on my family name 'Mortlock' to discover that there are more Mortlocks on Internet than I had realised existed in the world. Apart from the UK from where I originate, they also pop up in large numbers in the USA and Australia.

It was during one of these searches that I discovered the existence of a group of Islands in Micronesia bearing the Mortlock name. I later discovered another group also bearing the name to the North East of the Solomon Islands near Papua New Guinea.

The group in Micronesia (also known as the Nomoi islands) are comprised of a series of atolls and islands stretching away to the South East of Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon. They are made up of the Upper Mortlocks, the Mid Mortlocks and the Lower Mortlocks. The Islands include Nama, Losap, Piis, Etal, Namoluk, Kutu, Moch, Lukunor, Oneop, Satawan and Ta. The inhabited islands are populated by 5,000+ Mortlockese and their language is also called Mortlockese.

On 15th December 2000 I received an email containing this fascinating account of life on Satawan 30 years ago, from Bob Perodeau and Evelyn Perodeau.

If you would like to see a Nasa picture of Satawan Atoll taken from space click HERE

On 22nd October 2001 I received the photo above of abandoned Japanese WWII tanks on Satawan from Karnim Judah who was born on the island.

Thank you to eBay seller DGridlebones, for letting me use this image of a wooden carving from Satawan, which is currently (Jan 2003) up for sale on eBay ( go to and search on 'Mortlock' ).

I received this email (this is an extract) in November 2003:-

"My name is Benjamin Maipi Rayphand and I am from the Mortlock Islands in FSM. (Federated States of Micronesia). Of Course, I was curious why our islands had an European name and I had looked up who Captain Mortlock was when I was younger. We have our own name for these islands- Fanapii. It means sandy islands."

There is more information about these Islands in the 'Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit Micronesia' and the 'Moon Publications inc. (M) Micronesia Handbook'.

The group near Papua New Guinea (often appear on maps as Tau or Tauu or Takuu group) are almost due South of the Micronesia group (whereas the Micronesia group are a few hundred miles north of the Equator the Papua New Guinea group are a similar distance to the South of it).

This group seems to consist of a single atoll with about fourteen islands on it's East side and a single island 'Nukerekia' on the North West side. Takuu Island is the Southern most and largest of the Eastern group, although it would seem that most of the population of about 500 live on the nearby tiny island Nukutoa.

Mortlock Islands on the Takuu Atoll

Nukutoa (foreground), Nukuafare, Karuteke, Nukuturua

The picture above was kindly supplied by Lakoa Fitina (Lakoa is a Mortlock islander, who was given the picture by Australian, Len Murray) who is constructing his own page which contains more pictures and a fascinating history of how the islands got their various names, at

This group of islands is briefly mentioned in the 'Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit Papua New Guinea'.

If you would like to see a Nasa picture of Takuu Atoll taken from space click HERE

in 1997 from the UK I have received the following information which seems to corroborate information on Lakoa's page:-

"Near Waterloo Station, London, is Oriel House at the junction of New Cut and Blackfriars Road, which houses the India and Oriental Studies Library. Recommended reading:L/MAR/B/427/A, Log of the "Young William", Captain James Mortlock, discoveries of two sets of islands on 19th and 27th November 1795, with sketches. Both , confusingly, later called Mortlock Islands."

Since receiving this the India and Oriental Studies collection has been moved to the new British Library on Euston Road, London. I have obtained some information from the log book which can be viewed here Log Book of the Young William.

RJH Griffiths has also researched the Young William and it's Master, click HERE to read his article.

The Mortlock Islands may soon disappear under rising sea levels. Click HERE to read more.