Missing Pacific island riddle solved

2012-12-03 20:20

((Jean-Pierre Muller, AFP))

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney – A New Zealand researcher claims he solved the riddle of a mystery South Pacific island shown on Google Earth and world maps which does not exist, blaming a whaling ship from 1876.

The phantom landmass in the Coral Sea is shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google maps and is supposedly midway between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia.

The Times Atlas of the World appears to identify it as Sable Island, but according to Australian scientists who went searching last month during a geological expedition it could not be found.

Intrigued, Shaun Higgins, a researcher at Auckland Museum, started investigating and claimed it never existed, with a whaling ship the source of the original error.

"As far as I can tell, the island was recorded by the whaling ship the Velocity," Higgins told ABC radio, adding that the ship's master reported a series of "heavy breakers" and some "sandy islets".

"My supposition is that they simply recorded a hazard at the time. They might have recorded a low-lying reef or thought they saw a reef. They could have been in the wrong place. There is a number of possibilities," he said.

"But what we do have is a dotted shape on the map that's been recorded at that time and it appears it's simply been copied over time."

News of the invisible island sparked debate on social media at the time, with tweeters pointing out that Sandy Island was also on Yahoo Maps as well as Bing Maps.

On www.abovetopsecret.com, discussions were robust with one poster claiming he had confirmed with the French hydrographic office that it was indeed a phantom island and was supposed to have been removed from charts in 1979.

Google told AFP last month it always welcomed feedback on maps and "continuously explore(s) ways to integrate new information from our users and authoritative partners into Google Maps".

It appears that Sandy Island has now been taken off its map.

Read more on:    google  |  internet

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.