This week’s podcast came to us from London, by way of the Pitcairn Islands. If you’ve never heard of the Pitcairn Islands, you’re not alone. Our storyteller, Henry Duffy, had never heard of them either until he signed up to work on a project on underwater cameras there.
“I thought, ‘Maybe it’s near Australia,’” he says. “It’s not near Australia.”
To be fair, it's not actually near anywhere. The Pitcairn Islands -- which consist of Henderson, Ducie, Oeno, and the titular island of Pitcairn itself -- are in fact five hundred kilometers away from the nearest inhabited land. And only reachable by a boat that comes every three months. Talk about commitment to an assignment!
Not to mention, the island of Pitcairn is one of the world’s smallest communities by population. As of July, Pitcairn’s population was estimated at 49 people spread over just 23 households. (During his time, Henry estimates there were about 35 people living on the island.)
Fun facts about Pitcairn:
Pitcairn legalized gay marriage in 2015 despite having no known gay couples because there was “no reason not to.” Hard to argue with that, any way you look at it!
The Wikipedia page for Pitcairn contains such mind-blowing sentences as “All of Pitcairn's seven children were enrolled in school in 2000,” and “As of 2012, just two children had been born on Pitcairn in the 21 years prior.”
The residents of Pitcairn are mostly direct descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian consorts, who settled there in the late 1700s. In fact, many still have the original last names of the mutineers. The story of the mutiny on the Bounty is complicated and riveting, and highly worth falling down a Wikipedia black hole for. There's also a Mel Gibson movie about it, if you're into that sort of thing.
The language of Pitkern is taught alongside English in school. It’s a creole language that blends eighteenth-century English of the mutineers with the Tahitian of their consorts.
Of course, to really understand what it’s like to live on Pitcairn -- for 97 days, no less -- you’ll just have to listen to Henry’s story. Stay tuned for more upcoming shows in the UK in partnership with the British Science Association!
-- Erin Barker, Artistic Director