The isolation of an island makes it a perfect place for bad things to happen. From shipwrecks to cannibalism to nuclear testing, some islands have seen nothing less than the stuff of nightmares.
10. Tiburon Island Gold And Cannibalism
Tiburon Island is the largest island in Mexico. It’s hot, barren, filled with venomous animals, and home to a group of people called the Seri who have long been labeled as cannibals. It’s also been long reputed to contain untold riches and precious metals.
Arizona prospector Tom Grindell made his first trip to the island in 1903. At the time, when he only skirted the edges to see if it was worth mounting a full-scale prospecting operation onto the island. Deciding it was, he returned to Arizona to recruit men to help him. In the end, he was only joined by three others when he left in 1905. Traveling light—with materials to make a distillery, knowing that fresh water was going to be their scarcest commodity—they finally set off on June 10th, promising to be back by the end of July. They never returned.
Grindell’s brother, Edward, followed in September to find out what had happened to the party. When he came to the town the ill-fated prospecting party had left from, he received word from a small group of hunters that a group of Americans had been killed on the island. All that remained of them were their hands, strapped to tall stakes in the center of dance rings. The Seri were known to tie their captives to stakes or driftwood, cutting them apart little by little, eating the pieces, and watching them die.
Edward Grindell determined that the hands were from some other unfortunate party after speaking to the guide that had taken them part of the way. They had seen the hands, the guide had said, and it certainly wasn’t them. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Edward and his small party found the remains of the hands, determined to be other American miners based on the initials on the camera strap tying the hands. Edward and his party found traces of his brother—a dead mule, a rifle, and even Tom’s book—but ultimately, no bodies. The remains of Tom Grindell were found two years later—nothing more than a pile of bones identified by the handwritten letters that lay nearby.
Half a century later, a friendlier expedition was sent to the island with the goal of getting to know these supposedly ferocious people. Visitors found a kind and courteous tribe who was eager to share their way of life with visitors they thought not threatening. When asked whether or not the rumors of cannibalism were true, the response was “Well, we liked the flavor better than most game.” They went on to clarify that the Mexican government had placed restrictions on their cannibalistic activity, threatening them with death should any more island visitors mysteriously disappear.