Sandy Island: The Phantom Land That Exists On Maps But Not On Earth

By Nick Venable | 8 years ago

Have you ever been reminiscing about your hometown, or something similar, going on at length about a particular person, place or thing, only to have someone rudely call you out and tell you the source of your memory wasn’t actually what you thought? Wait, what? You say I already had this conversation with you, when we stayed in that hut on Sable Island? No, we didn’t, you dumb dick! Sable Island doesn’t even exist, despite what that map you’re holding says.

Maria Seton, a geologist from the University of Sydney, investigated that mapping anomaly, which also goes by the name Sandy Island, a small strip of land located – or not located – in the South Pacific, midway between Australia and New Caledonia. The island shows up on Google Earth, Google Maps, the Times Atlas of the World, and the research vessel Southern Surveyor’s weather maps. Seton was in the Surveyor riding over the spot when she and her crew “became suspicious when the navigation charts showed a depth of 4,600 feet in an area where our scientific maps and Google Earth showed the existence of a large island.” At that point, I probably would have experienced vertigo strong enough to stun a fish.

For those hoping for Earthly conspiracies or feats of mystery on par with a David Copperfield performance, embrace your disappointment. In theory, it’s probably due to a years-old human error. The Southern Surveyor’s nautical maps don’t show the island. The French government seems to be one of the only countries not holding on to this bit of misinformation in any form. If this bit of posting from holds any credence, the French Hydrographic office removed the error from their navigation charts in 1979.

It’s a mystery that will probably be solved soon, and without much fanfare. Though it’s disappointing that there isn’t more to it, at least we don’t have to hear anyone repeatedly say, “We have to go back to the island!” in between flashbacks.

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