Posts Tagged ‘University of Sydney’

“Undiscovery” of Sandy Island in the Coral Sea – or “Now you see it, now you don’t”

November 22, 2012

There are no good antonyms in English for the verb “discover”. In this particular case where an island was apparently “discovered” a long time ago, which was then included on many maps and which is now found not to exist, such words as “loss” or “concealment” or “miss” or “cover up” don’t quite fit.

But in this age of satellite imagery and GPS it is more than a little surprising that such an “error” – if error it was – could survive for so long!

I suspect that a clever hoaxer  – once upon a time – invented the island, introduced it into some reference map and is now laughing his socks off !!!!

So an “undiscovery” it is.

BBC reports:

A South Pacific island, shown on marine charts and world maps as well as on Google Earth and Google Maps, does not exist, Australian scientists say.

The supposedly sizeable strip of land, named Sandy Island on Google maps, was positioned midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia.

Sandy Island – “Now you see it now you don’t” image BBC/Google

But when scientists from the University of Sydney went to the area, they found only the blue ocean of the Coral Sea.

The phantom island has featured in publications for at least a decade.

Scientist Maria Seton, who was on the ship, said that the team was expecting land, not 1,400m (4,620ft) of deep ocean.

“We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area – very deep,” Dr Seton, from the University of Sydney, told the AFP news agency after the 25-day voyage.

“It’s on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We’re really puzzled. It’s quite bizarre. ……

…… Australia’s Hydrographic Service, which produces the country’s nautical charts, says its appearance on some scientific maps and Google Earth could just be the result of human error, repeated down the years.

A spokesman from the service told Australian newspapers that while some map makers intentionally include phantom streets to prevent copyright infringements, that was was not usually the case with nautical charts because it would reduce confidence in them. ….  ….. while most explorers dream of discovering uncharted territory, the Australian team appears to have done the opposite – and cartographers everywhere are now rushing to undiscover Sandy Island for ever.


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