Whoops: Much-Mapped Island Doesn't Actually Exist

Scientists head to Sandy Island, find nothing

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 22, 2012 7:11 AM CST | Updated Nov 25, 2012 9:40 AM CST

(Newser) – Planning an island vacation? A word to the wise: Don't visit Sandy Island, supposedly off Australia's northeast coast. It's simply not there. Scientists at the University of Sydney journeyed to the spot where the island is supposed to be according to many maps (including Google's). Between all the experts found at the coordinates was water, the BBC reports. "We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400 meters in that area—very deep," said one.

"How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out," he told AFP, adding that it's even on Google Earth. If it were real, Sandy Island would be in French waters (it lies between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia), but official French maps don't show it. Cartographers do occasionally pop fake streets into their maps to fight copyright infringement, notes the BBC, but such gimmicks rarely occur on nautical charts. "The world is a constantly-changing place, and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavor," says a rep for Google Maps.

A screen grab from Google Maps of the nonexistent island.   (Google Maps)
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