Sandy Island has been viewable on Google Earth, Google Maps, and several publicans for at least 10 years. The only problem is — it doesn’t actually exist.
Cartographers and the employees at Google are working to erase the South Pacific island from their maps after learning of the discovery — or rather, the undiscovery, reports the BBC.
The island has been charted halfway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia, but when a group of scientists from the University of Sydney went to the area, all they saw was 4,620 feet of deep ocean.
Dr Maria Seton, a scientist aboard the ship who explored the area, stated:
“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. It was 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, along with her colleagues, were aboard the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime vessel, for a 25-day voyage. They decided to check out the island’s area after noticing the map discrepancy, notes The Telegraph. Seton added:
“How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don’t know, but we plan to follow up and find out.”
Meanwhile, Google released a statement about the island-that-never-was, saying in part:
“We work with a wide variety of authoritative public and commercial data sources to provide our users with the richest, most up-to-date maps possible.”
So, while researchers look back at the records to see how an island that never existed found its way onto the maps, cartographers and employees are working to erase it from those maps.