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Voyages: Scientific Circumnavigations 1679 to 1859
  The Voyage of La Pérouse 1785-1788
The fate of the lost ships of La Pérouse was still shrouded in mystery forty years after their disappearance. Desperate efforts to find and rescue any survivors had involved several full-scale French expeditions. One of the most famous of these was lead by Chevalier d’Entrecasteaux in his ship, the Recherche. In 1793, he sited the island where, it was later learned, the ships had wrecked. It was Vanikoro, in the Santa Cruz group between Australia and Fiji. Entrecasteaux called it Ile de la Recherche. They were unable to find a safe harbor, and the people of the island threatened the ship; they could not go ashore.


People of Mannicolo

from Peter Dillons's Voyage aux Iles de la Mer du Sud ...,
et Relation de la Découverte du Sort de La Pérouse …
Paris: Pillet Aîné, 1830.

In 1826, the English whaling captain Peter Dillon was visiting the Santa Cruz group when he noticed some European objects in circulation there. Interviews with the inhabitants led him to Vanikoro, where he discovered the shipwrecks of La Pérouse. His discoveries suggested the heart-wrenching fact that some survivors may have been stranded on the island, awaiting rescue, at the time of the Recherche’s attempted landing. Dillon was able to find a number of relics, which he took to Paris and presented to the elderly Barthélemy de Lesseps, who had disembarked the expedition of La Pérouse prior to the wrecks. He sadly identified them to the Astrolabe and the Boussole. Dillon received the Legion of Honor in Paris and a lifelong pension for solving the tragic mystery. This illustration from Dillon’s account of his voyage depicts a family in Mannicolo, one of the islands in the New Hebrides south of Vanikoro.

La Pérouse: Page 7 of 7
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