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Photographer's Note

Recently we returned from down under Australia, from where we took a cruise to New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, the islands of Vanuatu and Fiji.

I shot the photo of the little boy in Guadalcanal on the Solomon Islands. We met dozens of dark-skinned Melanesian natives, and some, who like this little boy, supported blond hair. On our excursion bus the overarching question became the color of the children's hair: "Were they naturally blond," or "Had they used peroxide," or "Were they suffering from malnutrition?" These are three possible explanations for blond hair, and also for blue eyes. As I looked into the question recently, I discovered that the occurrence of blond hair (and frequently blue eyes) among the Melanesians is an unresolved question among anthropologists. Blonds are entirely natural, but their incongruous features represent mutation.

According to the literature at the Memorial Park, following the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Japanese forces were able to establish bases in the New Guinea and the Solomon Islands by Mid-April 1942, and were threatening Australia itself. Just a month later, in May 1942 a strategic sea battle took place between naval forces of the United States and Japan in the Coral Sea. This was followed by a decisive victory by the US in the Battle of Midway between 3-7 June 1942.

Poverty in the Solomon Islands is endemic, with only about 42 years life expectancy. And yet, there was absolutely no evidence of beggars.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6781 W: 471 N: 12169] (41261)
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