Phantom Island Vanishes From the Face of the Earth

By Chris Mills on at

Children, let this be a warning to you: just because something exists on Google doesn't mean it exists in real life. This was the case recently when an Australian research team planning to investigate Sandy Island, supposedly an island in the South Pacific, found that it just simply isn't there.

The island exists on most major marine charts of the area, not to mention Google Earth and Bing. It attracted the attention of oceanographers because if it actually existed, it'd be a tiny spur of rock sticking up from ocean almost 1400m deep. But, it doesn't exist in real life; there's just another meaningless patch of ocean. What does it all mean? Is it a conspiracy? Secret military base? Alien landing site? Hush-hush Apple research lab developed in the wake of the iPhone 4 debacle? No one knows.

The most sensible explanation to date is that it's the cartographer's version of a watermark: a fake piece of information introduced on the original survey that they could tell if another company is ripping off their data, only in this case it looks like everyone and their dog was ripping off their data. I don't know though, that explanation is a little glib; a little too convenient. What do you reckon though? Apple Map's failed attempt at copyright, or Blofeld's lair? [WAToday]