Sorry about the delay in posting. I have been really busy this past weekend.
According to Google Maps and several other nautical charts, Sandy Island is about 25 kilometres long and sits between Australia to the west and New Caledonia and Vanuatu to the east. According to Dr. Maria Seton and her scientific research team, it does not now, nor ever has, existed at all.
“We were out in the Eastern Coral Sea, conducting a scientific research expedition, and when we were approaching the area of this supposed island,” Seton [external] told the BBC. “We saw that our scientific maps showed there was an island there and yet the navigation charts on board the vessel showed that we had a water depth of 1,400 metres. That’s when we started getting suspicious.”
Seton says that it would be basically impossible for the island to have been washed away. She says that there’s no way it could have ever existed.
“It definitely hasn’t disappeared. We believe that there just was never an island there. All the navigation charts on board — so all of the ships that have gone through the area in the past and taken depth readings — haven’t found that there’s an island there,” she said in the BBC interview. “It must have just been an error that has just been propagated through these world maps. I mean we’ve got water depths of 1,400 metres. It’s not something that’s within the human time-scale that things have shifted…. You are talking about processes that have gone on for tens or even hundreds of millions of years.”
It’s a fairly pervasive error. In addition to appearing on the “map” view of Google Maps, it also appears on the “Satellite” view as well, although instead of specific photo images of the island, there is simply a black splotch, something that usually appears over areas Google has been asked to censor by a particular government.
The island isn’t a small one either. If it existed, it would be about the same size as Manhattan, if not a little bit larger.
Steven Micklethwaite from the University of Western Australia [external] told the Sydney Morning Herald, “We all had a good giggle at Google as we sailed through the island, then we started compiling information about the seafloor, which we will send to the relevant authorities so that we can change the world map.”
When asked about the island by Agence France-Presse, Google didn’t know why the error was made on their maps.
“The world is a constantly changing place, the Google spokesman told AFP, “and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour.”
Of course, the island isn’t just on Google Maps, it has appeared on a large number of charts since at least 2000. Though it is unclear why it’s non-existence wasn’t flagged from satellite photos.
Maybe they moved the island.
I wonder if any planes disappeared in the area or if the island was inhabited by mysterious natives with a god like leader. I really miss Lost.
- The maps lie: Australian scientists discover Manhattan-sized island doesn’t actually exist (news.nationalpost.com)
- Scientists ‘undiscover’ Pacific island (smh.com.au)
- Scientists ‘undiscover’ island in the Coral Sea (itv.com)
- Australian geologists prove that a South Pacific island does not exist (io9.com)