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The Case of the Disappearing Island

Google Maps, via BBC

Google Earth and Google Maps say Sandy Island is a pretty large piece of land between Australia and the French territory of New Caledonia. The island shows up on other maps of the region, as well as marine charts. Just one problem; it doesn’t exist, and may never have.

We believe there was just never an island there.”

-scientist Maria Seton, on the Island That Isn’t There

Sandy Island has been on maps for at least a decade. But Seton, a researcher for the Univerrsity of Sydney,noticed that marine charts said the area had unusually deep waters. Deep water and islands don’t usually go together, so the University sent out a research vessel to investigate.

That’s how they found out the island wasn’t there.

Adding to the mystery; Sandy Island shows up on maps created by Australian authorities, but not on maps made by the French [ironically, the island would be in French territorial waters. If it existed, of course].

So, how does a phanton island get on the map? Well, no one is sure yet. But there is a theory or two. Perhaps someone made a mistake, which just kept getting repeated until it was finally investigated. Or maybe it was added to a map on purpose, to see if someone was using the map without paying copyright fees [actually not as crazy as it sounds. Mapmakers have been known to put phantom streets on city maps to check if someone else is using their work]. Just one flaw in that theory; such fake information almost never shows up on marine charts, which need to be accurate for obvious reasons.

Do you have a theory [not involving Foster's ]? Lay it on us, here or at our Facebook page.Trust me, it can’t be any more riduculous than whatever explanation finally gets put with this…

Original story from the BBC

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