Times prior to the invention of man made imaging satellites were the days when navigators hoped to discover new landmasses and sailed to uncharted oceanic territories. But modern technology has rendered the old methods obsolete. So what do navigators do now? They go in search of islands that do not actually exist, but are shown on maps. Essentially, to “undiscover” an island as BBC’s Duncan Kennedy says. This is exactly what a team of scientists from the University of Sydney did.
Sandy Island is a relatively small and lonely island that sits in the Coral Sea, off the east coast of Australia and near the French governed island, New Caledonia. But the strange thing, however, is that Sandy Island exists only in maps. We are not talking about just Google Maps and Google Earth but also marine and scientific maps from world over, such as the online maps at the U.S National Geophysical Data Center.
Sandy Island, which measures about 16 miles North to South would fall into French territorial waters if it actually existed, but interestingly it is not marked on any French government maps, an Australian newspaper pointed out.
“We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area – very deep,” Dr Maria Seton, from the University of Sydney, told the AFP news agency after the 25-day voyage.
“It’s on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We’re really puzzled. It’s quite bizarre.
“How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don’t know, but we plan to follow up and find out.”
Australia’s Hydrographic Service said that the appearance of the phantom island on maps could have been due to human error, which had escaped everyone’s notice till now.
Those who are curious can still check out this isolated South Pacific paradise phantom island on Google Maps.