South Pacific Sandy Island, shown on marine charts and world maps, as well as on Google Earth and Google Maps, does not exist, according to Australian scientists.
The sizeable phantom land, supposedly positioned midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia in the Coral Sea, is shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google Maps, reported Agence France-Presse. The Times Atlas of the World identifies the non-existent landmass as Sable Island and, according to Maria Seton, a geologist from the University of Sydney, weather maps used by the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel, also place the island there.
According to BBC News, Sandy Island has been featured in publications for at least a decade. Seton said her team was expecting to see land when it went to study the area, not 4620 feet of deep ocean.
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"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," Seton told AFP. "How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out."
Director of charting services for the Australian Hydrographic Service Mike Prince said the world coastline database incorporated some reports that were old or contained errors, noted The Sydney Morning Herald.
"We take anything off that database with a pinch of salt," said Prince.
While some map makers intentionally include phantom streets to stop copyright infringements, nautical charts do not use this tactic.
"[That would] reduce confidence in what is actually correct," Prince continued.