Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 4:15pm
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Sheerr Room, Fay House, 10 Garden St., Cambridge

Wave Piloting in the Marshall Islands

For generations, traditional navigators in the Marshall Islands have relied on the techniques of wave piloting—the subtle perception of wave and swell patterns along with the sighting of atolls and islands—to safely guide their outrigger canoes across the oceans. In 2015, several researchers replicated these voyages as they journeyed between the atolls of Majuro and Aur in an outrigger canoe without instrumentation. 

In this discussion, these researchers will talk about their experience of wave piloting and explore possible links between modern science and this almost forgotten form of traditional Marshallese knowledge.


  • Isao Eknilang, navigator, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Joseph Genz, assistant professor of anthropology, University of Hawai’i
  • John Huth, codirector of the science program, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Donner Professor of Science, Harvard Faculty of the Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
  • Alson Kelen, director, Canoes of the Marshall Islands, Marjuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Gerbrant van Vledder, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

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Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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