In January of 2009, a hellish storm packing 125-mile per hour winds raked the Gironde estuary in western France, whipped the sea into a frenzy, leveled trees on land, and killed 26 people.
And in its wake, a strange new island was born.
Storms often pile sand and sediment high enough to form small protrusions from the waves — but they are usually swept away by tides or the next squall. But this island is something else; its 11 acres (250 at low tide) are still intact after weathering another fierce storm, cyclone Xynthia, earlier this year. Locals call it "l'ile mysterieuse" — "the mysterious island," after the Jules Verne novel — but it remains officially unnamed, and does not appear on any maps.
There's just one problem: people are so transfixed by the island that tourists are flocking to it. A rave was even held there. Needless to say, this doesn't bode well for newly-established wildlife.
Local activists are struggling to get it protected. But the entire estuary is due to become a protected zone next year, which would include the still unnamed stretch of land.
Image: CNES (satellite image of Gironde estuary)