Riddle of Missing Pacific Island Solved

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A South Pacific island identified on Google Earth, now blacked out, never existed. Credit: Google Maps

New Zealand researcher claimed to have solved the riddle of a

mystery South Pacific island shown on Google Earth and world maps which

does not exist, blaming a whaling ship from 1876.

The phantom

landmass in the Coral Sea is shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and

Google maps and is supposedly midway between Australia and the

French-governed New Caledonia.

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The Times Atlas of the World

appears to identify it as Sable Island, but according to Australian

scientists who went searching last month during a geological expedition

it could not be found.

Intrigued, Shaun Higgins, a researcher at

Auckland Museum, started investigating and claimed it never existed,

with a whaling ship the source of the original error.

"As far as I

can tell, the island was recorded by the whaling ship the Velocity,"

Higgins told ABC radio, adding that the ship's master reported a series

of "heavy breakers" and some "sandy islets".

"My supposition is

that they simply recorded a hazard at the time. They might have recorded

a low-lying reef or thought they saw a reef. They could have been in

the wrong place. There is all number of possibilities," he said.

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"But

what we do have is a dotted shape on the map that's been recorded at

that time and it appears it's simply been copied over time."

News

of the invisible island sparked debate on social media at the time, with

tweeters pointing out that Sandy Island was also on Yahoo Maps as well

as Bing Maps.

Google told

AFP last month it always welcomed feedback on maps and "continuously

explore(s) ways to integrate new information from our users and

authoritative partners into Google Maps".

It appears that Sandy Island has now been taken off its map.

– by AFP