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Rapa Nui's Sea Creatures


The petroglyphs of Rapa Nui are intriguing for their variety of design motifs and their complexity. In The Rock Art of Easter Island (1992), I described and illustrated many varieties of "sea creature" images to be found in the island's rock art. Due to space constraints, not all recorded examples were included in that publication, and subsequent archaeological work has uncovered a few others. Recently, I encountered two books describing fishes of the Marquesas and Hawai'i (Chester et al. 1998; Titcomb and Pukui 1952), and some unresolved matters relating to Easter Island's sea menagerie were brought forth. In one instance, I erroneously cited two dolphin images, calling them swordfish (Lee 1992:Fig 5.34); Dr John Randall of the Bishop Museum kindly assisted with the identification of those, as well as some other fish motifs.