The Mystery Behind the Disappearing Island That Existed on Google Maps Has Been Solved

By Casey Chan on at

Remember that tiny South Pacific island known as Sandy Island on Google Maps and Google Earth that disappeared? It was like LOST in real life. Though scientists 'undiscovered' the island recently, the real mystery was on how it appeared on modern maps to begin with. We now know the answer.

Shaun Higgins, a researcher at Auckland Museum, got interested in the story fo the disappearing island and figured out that the original mapping error was made by a whaling ship. Higgins says:

"As far as I can tell, the island was recorded by the whaling ship the Velocity... 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 all number of possibilities."

Higgins notes that the whaling ship reported "heavy breakers" and "sandy islets" when describing the fake Sandy Island and the dotted shape on the map was just copied over and over again over time. The island that disappeared never existed. [Discovery News]