Ropen Bioluminescence

What do the flying lights of Umboi Island, Tawa Village, and Salamaua have in common? In each of these areas of Papua New Guinea, natives ascribe the lights to a large flying creature. On Umboi, it is called "ropen."

video analysis of ropen lights

Over 90% of ropen sightings on Umboi Island are of a brief distance light at night. Why? According to the American author Jonathan Whitcomb, there is only one large ropen that lives full-time in the interior of that island, and all ropens are nocturnal. Sightings in the Tawa Village and Salamaua areas may be similar.

On Umboi Island (Morobe Province), the ropen has a 5-6-second bioluminescent glow that the natives see when the creature is about one hundred meters above the ground (although villagers sometimes see it over a reef). In the Tawa Village area, deep in the mountainous interior of Papua New Guinea, the indava lights can glow for longer than six seconds. In Salamaua, one native described two lights per creature: on the underside near where the wings connect with the body. Members of the Destination Truth team (early 2007) recorded one of the mysterious lights as it flew over the sea near Salamaua. The video footage was taken back to the United States, but forensic video experts failed to identify the light, admitting that it was a mystery to them.

In 2004, in central Umboi Island, Jonah Jim was interviewed twice: by Whitcomb and, a few weeks later, by Guessman and Woetzel. He was with his family one night when the big ropen flew overhead (flying towards Lake Pung). The importance of Jonah Jim's testimony is that it ties the glowing form to the pterosaur-like form. He saw it glowing and he saw its long tail (obviously not a Flying Fox fruit bat).

Many creatures have bioluminescence (esp. in oceans). One researcher in Australia (F.F. Silcock) has researched reports of bioluminescence in some barn owls; in Australia, the lights are called "Min Min." But the ropen (still an officially undiscovered cryptid as of early 2008) has literally and figuratively taken flying lights to new heights.