Two American cryptozoologists explore Umboi Island
In the second ropen expedition of 2004, David Woetzel and Garth Guessman searched for a living pterosaur in Papua New Guinea
Copyright 2005-2016 Jonathan David Whitcomb
A few weeks after the Whitcomb expedition on Umboi Island, Morobe Province, in 2004, Garth Guessman and David Woetzel arrived
Searching for Ropens and Finding God
Thank you to Garth Guessman for the use of many photographs on this page: Copyright 2004, Garth Guessman. Also thank you to David Woetzel for his work in this expedition, which may have included some photography.
The American explorers David Woetzel (left) and Garth Guessman (lower
right) made many friends on Umboi Island, including this villager. Some of
the islanders were so touched by the friendliness of the ropen investigators
that they adopted the visitors into their families, giving them new names.
Woetzel and Guessman were invited to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ
in one or two villages, for many of these natives had some exposure to
Christian missionary labors, either directly or indirectly.
Woetzel and Guessman were accompanied by native guides on several
excursions, as they hiked up mountains and down the jungle trails.
Over this crater lake, on a remote tropical island, around 1994, flew the gigantic
ropen, terrifying seven local boys. This photo was taken by Guessman, about
ten years later, while he and his fellow-explorer David Woetzel were camped out
on a ridge above Lake Pung for a few days and nights.
According to local natives, it was the first time that any humans had ever been
camped out on this ridge overlooking Lake Pung. The Americans saw no ropen
while they camped out there, unfortunately, not even a flying light.
Read the explanation in Searching for Ropens and Finding God (4th edition).
The two American cryptozoologists, with their native guides and interpreters, also
camped by Lake Bono, another crater lake on Umboi Island. But they were also
unlucky there and not just because they became drenched with rain: They stayed
there by Mount Swal at a time when the ropen was on another part of the island.
Guessman (left) interviewed a local Baptist pastor, Jacob Kepas, regarding
his sighting of a flying seklo-bali, that these investigators believe is similar
to the ropen of Umboi. Both of these flying cryptids appear to glow as they
fly at night. Mary Blume, wife of the missionary Jim Blume, helped with the
interpretation. (A possible alternate spelling of Jacob in PNG is Jakob.)
A skeptic might dismiss the sighting by Jacob Kepas, for he did not see a
shape or detailed features of the flying creature he had witnessed. Why is
the seklo-bali a non-extinct pterosaur when this native could not make out
sufficient details in the appearance of the glowing flying creature? It does
support the testimonies of other eyewitnesses who have seen the glowing
flying creatures, and some of those natives have seen both the light of
the animal and the details of its appearance: like a long-tailed pterosaur.
Woetzel and Guessman used sketches of
many birds, bats, and pterosaurs, to test
the native eyewitnesses for any possible
misidentifications. The results were
consistent: The ropen is unlike any bird
or bat, but it is like a Sordes pilosus, a
Missionary James Blume saw a small
glowing penguin-shaped figure, but no
no detailed features (1996, near Manus
Island, which is many miles north of
Umboi Island). This supports honesty-
credibility of eyewitnesses and those
who interviewed them.
Guessman and Woetzel also visited Opai and Gomlongon Villages. Here
Leonard describes to the two Americans how the ropen flies over Opai
towards the sea. He sees it about once per month as it glows at night.
Other native islanders confirmed that the creature flies over villages
sometimes. This kind of testimony is common in Papua New Guinea: An
eyewitness sees a flying light but not any details about the animal that
produces the glow while it flies.
Yet a few eyewitnesses, in particular Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu, have
seen both the glow and the shape and features of the flying creature. It
is those detailed descriptions of appearance that support the concept that
the ropen of Umboi Island is a modern living long-tailed pterosaur.
David Woetzel saw the ropen light one
night, when he was near Arot Village.
This may have been the best sighting
by a Westerner in many years on this
island. It lasted only two seconds—
no time to grab a camera for a photo.
This is another case of an eyewitness
who sees a flying light but cannot see
any details about what produced that
light. On the positive side, we can be
sure the American explorers are not
making up hoax interviews and trying
to fool people with falsified sightings.
Guessman and Woetzel had prepared a
page of silhouette illustrations before
their expedition on Umboi Island:
thirty-four pictures of bats, birds, and
pterosaurs. Noteworthy was the popular
choice: #13, Sordes pilosus.
Both Jonah Jim and Jonathan Ragu had
a clear view of the form and features of
the glowing creature. Both were sure it
resembled the Sordes pilosus sketch
more than the other pterosaurs and
birds and bats shown to them. Other
natives had less clear of a view.
How might these strange wooden carvings in Port Moresby relate to the
creatures seen in many coastal areas of Papua New Guinea? Living-
pterosaur investigators believe that these works of tribal art are indeed
supporting evidence for the existence of the ropen.
Yet the primary source of cryptozoological evidence for modern long-
tailed pterosaurs in the southwest Pacific is in detailed descriptions in
the reports from eyewitnesses such as the following:
The Perth couple
Gideon Koro and his friends
Others in the southwest Pacific who saw an apparent pterosaur
Read much more about the two ropen expeditions of 2004, plus many more of
these extraordinary searches, in the fourth edition of Searching for Ropens and
Finding God. Get the many details not available in online sources: a wealth of
information and adventure.
The ropen is not confined to the southwest Pacific. Whitcomb has received, over
many years, reports from five continents. Large featherless long-tailed flying
creatures live in many areas of our planet, being mostly nocturnal and somewhat
uncommon, therefore they are encountered less often than common birds.
From the first chapter of the book
“It looked like a dead pterodactyl; not fossil bones but with skin, like it had died
recently. Could those creatures, non-extinct, still fly? Although I could not verify
the photo was genuine, the idea within that image in a soon-forgotten book would
be awakened four decades later, to plunge me into the most dramatic adventure
of my life: exploring a remote tropical island, searching for giant living pterosaurs.
“. . . Grave robbery in both Africa and Papua New Guinea—it looked like too
much for a coincidence. Both ropens and kongamatos appeared to be real
creatures. . . . [maybe] pterosaurs.”