Aussie scientists un-discover Pacific island

An island in the Coral Sea  shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google maps does not exist say scientists
Photo illustration of Google Earth. A South Pacific island identified on Google Earth and world maps does not exist, according to Australian scientists who went searching for the mystery landmass during a geological expedition.

A South Pacific island identified on Google Earth and world maps does not exist, according to Australian scientists who went searching for the mystery landmass during a geological expedition.

The sizeable phantom island in the Coral Sea is shown as Sandy Island on Earth and 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. Weather maps used by the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel, also say it exists, according to Dr Maria Seton.

But when the Southern Surveyor, which was tasked with identifying fragments of the Australian submerged in the Coral Sea, steamed to where the island was supposed to be, it was nowhere to be found.

"We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400 metres (4,620 feet) in that area—very deep," Seton, from the University of Sydney, told AFP after the 25-day voyage.

Aussie scientists un-discover Pacific island
The supposed 'Sandy Island' as seen on Google Earth.

"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."

News of the invisible island sparked debate on social media, with tweeter Charlie Loyd pointing out that Sandy Island is also on Yahoo Maps as well as Bing Maps "but it disappears up close".

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.

Another claimed: "Many mapmakers put in deliberate but unobtrusive and non-obvious 'mistakes' into their maps so that they can know when somebody steals the map data."

Google said it always welcomed feedback on a and "continuously explore(s) ways to integrate new information from our users and authoritative partners into Google Maps".

"We work with a wide variety of authoritative public and commercial data sources to provide our users with the richest, most up-to-date maps possible," a Google spokesman told AFP.

"One of the exciting things about maps and geography is that the world is a constantly changing place, and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour."

The Australian Navy's Hydrographic Service—the department responsible for producing official nautical charts—told Fairfax media it took the world coastline database "with a pinch of salt" since some entries were old or erroneous.


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More information: Press release

(c) 2012 AFP

Citation: Aussie scientists un-discover Pacific island (2012, November 22) retrieved 22 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-11-aussie-scientists-un-discover-pacific-island.html
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Nov 22, 2012
Strange - on google earth the area is blotted out in black.. Isn't this based on satellite images?

Nov 22, 2012
Forget Hawaii, the TV series "Lost" was in fact filmed on-location on a real island that never actually existed! ;-)

Nov 22, 2012
there be dragons

Nov 22, 2012
Doesn't surprise me. There are a lot of glitches on Google Earth, Sky, Mars and Moon. They're constantly updating it.

Nov 22, 2012
Many mapmakers put in deliberate but unobtrusive and non-obvious 'mistakes' into their maps so that they can know when somebody steals the map data.

For city maps that is certainly the case (intentional misspelling of street names and the like). So I wouldn't be surprised if that's the reason for this island - an a good indicator that everybody is just copying off each other.

Nov 22, 2012
It's Gilligan's Island. People were always almost discovering it.

Nov 22, 2012
It is eerie how it disappears on Bing Maps, for example. Here be dragons, indeed.

@ Sinister: But it surprises us others that a "Google Earth, Sky, Mars and Moon" glitch would affect Yahoo and Bing Maps. =D

Nov 22, 2012
Shhhh! Its Doctor Evil's Lair! Now we can move in and take him down. Just kidding. Maybe its something that powerful people dont want the world to know about. It does seem like a large island, compared to some other pacific islands that are tiny. How could this mistake be in so many map systems?

Nov 22, 2012
It is eerie how it disappears on Bing Maps, for example. Here be dragons, indeed.

@ Sinister: But it surprises us others that a "Google Earth, Sky, Mars and Moon" glitch would affect Yahoo and Bing Maps. =D


Oh, right. I wasn't aware of that. Now that you mention it, that does sound very unusual.

Nov 23, 2012
Deliberate fictitious entries on maps and in dictionaries are called 'copyright traps'. Some terms are Mountweazels, steinlaus (German for 'stone louse'), and a long list of other names.
http://en.wikiped...us_entry
And
http://contentini...entries/

Nov 23, 2012
Misinformation persists into the Information Age simply because it has practical uses. A friend of mine (a former employee of the Defense Mapping Agency) confirms the abundance of these idiosyncracies that are used for copyright protection.

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