Where did it go? Scientists 'undiscover' Pacific island
Most explorers dream of discovering uncharted territory, but a team of Australian scientists have done the exact opposite.
They have found an island that doesn't exist.
The island, named Sandy Island on Google Earth, also exists on marine charts and world maps and allegedly sits between Australia and New Caledonia in the south Pacific.
But when the voyage's chief scientist, Maria Seton, and her crew sailed past where the island should be, they found nothing but blue ocean.
"We became suspicious when the navigation charts used by the ship showed a depth of 1400 metres in an area where our scientific maps and Google Earth showed the existence of a large island," Dr Maria Seton, a geologist from the University of Sydney, said.
"Somehow this error has propagated through to the world coastline database from which a lot of maps are made."
The missing island has regularly appeared in scientific publications since at least 2000.
The Sydney Morning Herald
It has been suggested that the island first appeared on a map as a copyright trap, but has remained, unchallenged, ever since. It is normal practice in cartography to place a fictitious "trap street" on a map for the purpose of "trapping" potential copyright violators; however, the Australian Hydrographic Service, a department of the Royal Australian Navy, opined that this would not have been standard practice with nautical charts
Sandy Island is a phantom island that was supposedly located between Australia and New Caledonia in the Coral Sea. The island appears on some world maps, including Google Maps. On Google Earth's default view the island area is covered by black pixels, but the program's historical imagery feature has a satellite image of the southern portion taken by DigitalGlobe on 3 March 2009 showing nothing but sea. It also appeared in some editions of the Times Atlas of the World (there labelled Ile de Sable, the French equivalent of Sandy Island).