It’s been more than 80 years since the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. However, the world is still wondering what happened to the aviation pioneer who became a legend for being the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic.
Now, explorer Robert Ballard, who unveiled the Titanic believes he has solved the mystery of Earhart’s death, and it was gruesome.
She died alone on Gardner Island, and it’s believed coconut crabs devoured her remains. Another theory says she was eaten alive, not by coconut crabs but by some smaller voracious species of arthropods.
The Fatal Landing On Gardner Island
In 2019, deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard went to the tiny Pacific Gardner Island, today known as Nikumaroro, to search for Amelia Earhart or her Lockheed Electra plane.
This is the place most experts believe the plane ended up on July 2, 1937, when Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were six weeks into their trip around the world.
They were expected to reach Howland Island, 1,700 miles southwest of Honolulu, where the U.S. Navy was expecting them.
Only something went wrong, communication with the aircraft was low, and it is believed Noonan somehow missed the tiny Howland Island.
Running low on fuel, Earhart and Noonan landed on Gardner Island instead, 350 nautical miles southeast of Howland.
Gardner Island or Nikumaroro is a small piece of land surrounded by a coral reef barrier, and experts believed the two could survive for a few days with the supplies and tools they had on board.
Except she may have spent her last days alone, surrounded by colossal coconut crabs.
Meet The Coconut Crabs
The international expeditions on Gardner island concluded it was entirely possible for the Lockheed Electra plane to crash land on the coral reef barrier.
Still, they believed Noonan might have died in the attempt. Why wasn’t the plane found? It was probably washed to sea, they say.
At the time, the island was uninhabited, its most notable dwellers being the coconut crabs, pretty horrifying creatures you wouldn’t want to meet. Ever.
This type of crab can grow up to 3.3 feet long and weigh some 9 pounds at maturity. Unlike any crab you’ve seen before, the coconut crabs can climb up trees when they’re too far from their burrow and need somewhere quick to hide when they spot aerial predators.